Basquiat is the top cop at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art auction

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art auction in May is one of the highlights of New York City’s spring art scene.

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Auction May 2017

This season’s auction is being led by Cy Twombly’s Leda and the Swan and Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of George Dyer.

The top Latin artist in the sale is Haitian-Puerto Rican-American Jean-Michel Basquiat. His La Hara (1981) is one of the highlights. It is estimated to sell for $22-28,000,000. The interest around Basquiat’s “Untitled” 1982 is likely to push the final sale towards the high end.

The piece is a portrait of a policeman. Painted in 1981, it comes from the moment when Basquiat was himself transforming from a graffiti artist chased by the cops to a darling of the international art world. “La Hara” is a play on the slang for a policeman, as in officer O’Hara.

At the beginning of that year, Basquiat was painting on any piece of junk he could find in the Lower East Side. By the end of the year he was working in Annina Nosei’s SoHo gallery.

Basquiat was on his way to stardom, but he still felt the heat of the street in his day-to-day life. That is what we see in La Hara.

Other Latin artists in the auction include French artists Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Dubuffet, and Louise Bourgeois; Spanish-American Richard Serra; Spaniard Pablo Picasso; and Italian Maurizio Cattelan.

The auction is Wednesday, May 17 at 6:30pm. Auction items are on view May 6 through May 17. For more information, visit

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