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Rare Basquiat skull painting expected to sell for $50M at Christie's auction

In This Case by Jean-Michel Basquiat is on display at a preview of the 20th and 21st Century evening sales at Christie's New York galleries in New York City on May 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
"In This Case" by Jean-Michel Basquiat is on display at a preview of the 20th and 21st Century evening sales at Christie's New York galleries in New York City on May 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 26 (UPI) -- A rare Jean-Michel Basquiat painting is set to be auctioned off at Christie's auction house where it is expected to sell for more than $50 million.

The painting, titled In This Case, is part of Christie's sale of 21st Century art at its New York auction house on May 11.

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While the auction house does not have an official estimate for the Basquiat piece, it has told collectors upon request the estimate is more than $50 million, while dealers say it could sell for twice that, CNBC reported.

"In This Case will be immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with Basquiat's trilogy of large-scale skull paintings from 1981-83," Ana Maria Celis, senior specialist and head of 21st century art at Christie's, told Forbes. "As his final expression in the series, it is the most raw and visceral and emotionally charged of the three paintings with Basquiat holding nothing back."

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Another of the three skull paintings sold at a 2017 Sotheby's auction for more than $110 million.

Last week, a set of four Basquiat screen prints titled Portfolio I, 1983-2001 fetched a world auction record of $605,000 at Phillips.

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"The appetite for Basquiat's works is global and has dramatically expanded in recent years," Celis said.

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In This Case will be placed on public view at Christie's Hong Kong gallery Wednesday before making its way back to New York for exhibition at Rockefeller Center, where the auction will be held next month.

Works by Claude Monet, Mark Rothko and Vincent Van Gogh will also be offered at a 20th Century sale two days later on May 13.

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