A masterpiece by Jean-Michel Basquiat could bring more than $40 million when it hits the auction block in New York next month.
Painted in 1982, the monumental untitled work measures more than 16ft long and has been described as Basquiat’s "explosive tour de force".
It will now lead the Christie’s hotly-anticipated Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art on May 10.
Basquiat created the work in Modena, Italy in the spring of 1982, when he was just 22 years old. He had initially been invited to Italy to participate in his first one-man show in 1981 by dealer Emilio Mazzoli, and returned the following year – a breakthrough trip which also produced the masterworks Prophet 1 and Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump.
The importance of the work led it to appear on the cover of Basquiat’s Catalogue Raisonné, and it has since featured in every major retrospective of his work.
"We are very proud to lead our evening sale with this truly exceptional work by Basquiat," said Brett Gorvy, Christie’s International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art.
"Untitled is a remarkably powerful canvas, which instantly engulfs any viewer standing in its monumental presence. Due to its striking visual impact, its demonic central figure and its significance within the cannon of Basquiat’s career, we are confident that its supreme quality and rarity will command tremendous interest from the world’s leading international collectors and it is set to realize one of the highest prices for the artist at auction."
The current auction record for a Jean-Michel Basquiat work was set at Christie’s in 2013, when his 1982 work Dustheads sold in New York for $48,843,752.