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Yoko Ono’s Basquiat painting could bring up to $12 million in New York

A Jean-Michel Basquiat painting owned by Yoko Ono could sell for up to $12 million in New York next month.
The work, inspired by boxing champion Muhammad Ali, will cross the block at Sotheby’s on during the company’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on November 16.

Basquiat executed the work circa 1981-82, during a period in which he was heavily inspired by his boxing heroes such as Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Jersey Joe Walcott.

Cabra depicts the historic fight between Ali and Oscar Bonavena on December 7, 1970 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Before the fight Ali declared "I’ve never wanted to whup a man so bad. I’m gonna put some soul on his head. I tell you that the Beast is mine. And tonight he falls in nine."

However, the gruelling fight lasted 15 rounds before Ali won with a technical knockout over the Argentinian heavyweight, who was known as ‘The Bull’.

Basquiat’s painting features one of his iconic skull heads complete with a set of bull horns, placed within a boxing ring below the letters "TKO".

The painting’s title also refers to Ali, as "cabra" translates from Spanish as "goat", or the acronym GOAT – short for Ali’s preferred title as the Greatest of All Time.

Yoko Ono acquired the painting from a New York gallery in 1993, and since then it has been seen in public just twice, during exhibitions at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel and the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris.

"I have had the pleasure of owning and living with this masterwork for over two decades," said Ono.

"The time has come for it to find a new home, and I am delighted that part of the sale proceeds will benefit the foundation I established years ago with the intention of bringing peace and tolerance to the world."

"Following our tremendous success with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Untitled’ in May, we are honored to be entrusted with yet another outstanding work by the artist," commented Grégoire Billault, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York.

"Dutifully cared for by Ms. Ono, and rarely seen in the public, this painting offers collectors the unique opportunity to own a rare historic moment memorialized in Basquiat’s signature style.

"This work fortuitously brings together three iconic cultural figures – Basquiat, Muhammad Ali and Yoko Ono. Sotheby’s cannot be more proud to share this with the collecting community in November."

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