LONDON — Graffiti pioneer Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Orange Sports Figure,” which was recently found to be signed in invisible ink, sold for over 4 million pounds at a London auction on Wednesday. The 1982 work, which depicts a figure emblazoned with Basquiat’s iconic crown motif, eventually went under the hammer for 4,073,250 pounds (US$6.2 million, 4.8 million euros) at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction. Experts at the auction house on Tuesday revealed they had discovered Basquiat’s signature in invisible ink after viewing the painting under ultraviolet light. Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York City, in 1960 and began as a graffiti artist in the late 1970s before evolving into a Neo-expressionist during the next decade. During a varied career, the artist collaborated with Pop Art godfather Andy Warhol, played in a band with U.S. film actor and director Vincent Gallo, appeared in a video for New Wave band Blondie and even briefly dated future pop queen Madonna. He died in 1988 after taking a heroin overdose following a battle with addiction and depression. The top-selling lot of Wednesday’s sale was German visual artist Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild, which sold for 4,857,250 pounds, exceeding its pre-sale expectations of 3-4 million pounds. Cheyenne Westphal, Sotheby’s Chairman of Contemporary Art Europe, said: “We witnessed a huge depth of international bidding right across the auction, with buyers coming from no fewer than 20 countries.
“Gerhard Richter once again dominated, with all six of his works selling for an aggregate sum of 17.6 million pounds.”