Elton John To Auction Off Rare Warhol, Basquiat Collaboration

Photo via Sotheby’s

After a chance meeting in a New York cafe in 1980, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol went on to conspire on several significant works, until the latter’s untimely death in 1987. One such painting, simply Untitled, will go on the block at the Sotheby’s Paris French Evening sale on June 7.

The current owner of the rather poignantly foreboding artwork (Jean-Michel himself died in 1988), a 1984-1985 acrylic, silkscreen and oil on canvas, signed by both artists on the overlap, is Sir Elton John, along with husband David Furnish. Described as a memento mori—meaning, a cultural reminder of mortality and death’s inevitability—it strikingly exhibits the artistic/psychological frisson and tension that existed between Warhol and Basquiat.

It is expected to fetch upwards of $1,000,000, and the proceeds will likely go to one of the singer’s charitable concerns. Indeed, he and Sotheby’s have a collaborative history of selling off pieces to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.


‘Casablanca’ Piano Drastically Undersells At Auction

The piano from the 1942 film Casablanca has sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $602,000 — half of its projected sale price.

The upright piano is played by club pianist Sam (actor Dooley Wilson), who noodles the song As Time Goes By for for Ilsa (actress Ingrid Bergmann), which prompts the club owner, Rick, to storm over angrily and ask why he’s playing that song. It is at that moment that Rick and Ilsa reconnect once again. 

The 58-key instrument has been privately owned by a Japanese client; it was originally sold by Sotheby’s in 1988 for $154,000.

The identity of the most recent buyer is also being kept private, Huffington Post reports.

You can watch the famous clip below: 


Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

A Scream of a Deal: Edvard Munch’s Masterpiece Sold for $120 Million

In times of great economic hardship and cringe-worthy unemployment numbers, there will always still be people who laugh in the face of recession. “Crisis? What crisis? I’m gonna go buy a priceless work of art now, bye.”

Okay, so that’s probably not quite how it happened, but nevertheless, one of four versions of Edvard Munch’s classic expressionist pastel work, The Scream, was sold for $119.9 million at Sotheby’s today, shattering previous art-auction records. The victor of the five international bidders won via a telephone bid, competing primarily with four other bidders making offers in English, Chinese and according to reports, Norwegian.

This version, one of four, was sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, and was a particularly coveted version of the painting due to the presence of a handwritten poem from Munch, whose lines include: “Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire / My Friends walked on — I remained behind / — shivering with Anxiety — I felt the great Scream in Nature.” Great conversation starter to have in your living room, right?

The previous auction record was held by a Picasso work entitled “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” which sold for $106.5 million at Christie’s.

Art Re-Renaissance in the Middle East

imageLike two bitterly competitive siblings, Eastern and Western cultures have always had a tempestuous relationship. Take for example, Persepolis: one country’s war-torn turmoil became another country’s Oscar-worthy contender for Best Animated Feature. Ultimately, it always boils down to one culture flourishing as the other founders.

So it’s not incredibly surprising that now, as every sector of American business seems poised to crumble and recoil, the art market in the Middle East — frequently censored — is just beginning to boom. And in doing so, it inspires ailing auction house Sotheby’s (apparently they didn’t make enough commissions from Damien Hirst) to set up shop in Qatar. Christie’s, on the other hand, has lined up Farhad Moshiri, billed as Iran’s answer to Jeff Koons. And on a grander scale, of course, the Louvre and the Guggenheim are replicating in Abu Dhabi as well. But to counteract any rash optimism, skeptics like critic Rose Issa claim that this upswing in the Middle Eastern art market could simply be a fickle product of shifting trends and fashions.

Who Needs Talent When You’re Kate Moss?

Perhaps inspired by Damien Hirst’s Sotheby’s earnings, this weekend will see a first — a self-portrait by Kate Moss goes up for auction. The 2005-2006 painting, entitled “Who Needs Blood When You’ve Got Lipstick,” is drawn in, um, lipstick and bears the title inscribed in blood by then-boyfriend (and Babyshambles frontman) Pete Doherty. According to the auction website, the piece was “Bought directly from Pete Doherty’s private collection and is accompanied by a receipt in his hand for the sale on a Soho House napkin.” He’s probably got a sweet markup, since it reportedly only cost him £15.

Damien Hirst Starts The Bidding

Internationally renowned contemporary artist, collector, investor, and financier, Damien Hirst will be auctioning off his own works under the title “Beautiful Inside my Head Forever” at Sotheby’s in London on September 15th and 16th. The highlight of this auction will be his famous formaldehyde installation The Golden Calf, with hooves and horns cast in 18-karat gold. The auction represents an odd move for Hirst, who is bypassing the usual middlemen of dealers and gallery folk, to sell directly to the public himself. Bidding starts at 15.7 million. Do I hear 15.8?