Approximately 50 works that the Brooklyn-born artist, who
burst onto the New York art scene more than 30 years ago, left
to his former lover, Alexis Adler, will be included in the
exhibit that opens on March 1 in New York.
Adler, an embryologist at New York University's School of
Medicine, shared an apartment with Basquiat on New York's Lower
East Side from 1979 to 1980, when he was a struggling artist.
"I loved Jean and Jean loved me. We had our moment together here
on 12th Street and I'll always have that, but it's time to
share," said Adler, 57, who still lives in the apartment.
He could not afford supplies and painted on the walls, doors,
refrigerator and even on Adler's coat — a gold garment she plans
to wear to the exhibit opening, she said in an interview.
Three of Basquiat's most sought-after works will be on auction
at Christie's on March 6. An untitled mural painted on a door
with the words "Famous Negro Athletes" is expected to be the top
seller with a pre-sale estimate of up to $1.2 million.
Other highlights are "Olive Oyl," a work on plaster which could
fetch as much as $600,000, and "Milk," a painted radiator,
expected to sell for up to $500,000.
Among 41 other works to be sold online March 2-17, are
graffiti sketches priced as low as $2,000.
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The exhibit and auctions come on the heels of record
sales for post-war paintings. In November, Francis Bacon's "Three
Studies of Lucian Freud," at $142.4 million, became the most
expensive work of art ever sold at Christie's in New York.
Basquiat, a friend of pop artist Andy Warhol, drew heavily on his
Haitian and Puerto Rican roots. His career was the subject of a
feature film and a documentary. He died in 1988 at the age of 27 of
a heroin overdose.
"The sum total of these works provide an intimate view of Basquiat
before his fame and while he was practicing graffiti in the streets
and getting by on his own wits and the good will of others, who
recognized his tremendous creative spark," said Jonathan Laib,
Christie's senior specialist for post-war and contemporary art.
"They really describes this very particular period for the artist
and for the Lower East Side art scene in New York City, which was so
vibrant," he said.
Adler said she has always wanted to show and share Basquiat's
"I have so much, and it is just time for it to be released in the
world," she said.
(Reporting by Marina Lopes; editing by Patricia Reaney and Gunna
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