The untitled Basquiat.


Last May, after an untitled Jean-Michel Basquiat picture of a skull sold at Sotheby’s for $110.5 million—shattering the record for the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction by an American—the buyer could not contain his excitement about the purchase for very long. After just a few minutes of fevered speculation as to who secured the work, the Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa took to Instagram to declare himself the buyer. 

“I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece,” he said.

This morning, the Basquiat canvas appeared on Maezawa’s feed once again, but for a different announcement: The work will re-emerge when it comes to the Brooklyn Museum for a exhibition all its own, called “One Basquiat.” It opens January 26.

“I am thrilled to be sending Basquiat’s masterpiece home to Brooklyn,” Maezawa said in a press release. “It is my hope that through the exhibition and extensive programming accompanying it, the young people of the borough will be inspired by their local hero, just as he has inspired so many of us around the world.”

It is indeed a homecoming for the artist, who grew up in Park Slope, in an apartment a 30-minute walk away from the borough’s biggest museum. The Brooklyn institution has devoted exhibitions to his life and work before, most recently “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks” in 2015.

The show is organized by Eugenie Tsai, the museum’s senior curator of contemporary art, and it will be up through March 11. There’s no word yet as to which other institutions the piece might travel, but it seems Maezawa is planning on parting with his beloved work for quite some time. As he wrote in an Instagram post last November, “Good-bye for a while my Basquiat. I am hoping that you will be loved by people all over the world and move the hearts of people around the world. See you again soon. Have a good trip!”