Ken Griffin, founder of the hedge fund Citadel, paid upwards of $100 million for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 canvas Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump. The work was previously owned by Peter Brant, the media magnate and collector whose extensive Basquiat collection went on view last year at the Brant Foundation in New York City. News of the sale was first reported in art advisor Josh Baer’s newsletter, though the specific painting was identified by Bloomberg.
Griffin is a trustee of the Whitney Museum and his name adorns that museum’s lobby, a hall at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a wing of the Museum of Modern Art. A spokesman has said that Griffin intends to share the Basquiat canvas publicly.
The purchase marks a major sale in an otherwise slimmed-down art market. Since the worldwide COVID-19 lockdown went into effect in March, most private transactions have remained below $5 million, according to Bloomberg. According to one report, the world’s top auction houses saw their revenue drop by 40 percent in the first quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic. Auction totals for May, typically the month when Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s hold their major spring auctions in New York, were down a whopping 97 percent this year compared to May 2019.
The exact price of the canvas has not been revealed, but the $100 million-plus range puts it close to Basquiat’s record auction price of $110.4 million, achieved in 2017 when Yusaku Maezawa purchased Untitled (1982) at a Sotheby’s sale in New York, shattering the record for most expensive work by an American artist, then held by Andy Warhol.