Jean-Michel Basquiat, hailed as the first black art star to break through New York’s predominantly white gallery world, made history on Thursday when his untitled painting sold for a heart-stopping $110.5 million. After the record Sotheby’s sale, the late Basquiat ― who died at age 27 in August 1998, in the midst of a meteoric career ― officially became the highest selling American artist at auction. Born in Brooklyn in 1960, Basquiat has often been described in terms of what he was and what he managed to become ― long before he dethroned Andy Warhol as America’s most expensive maker of art.

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