A-Rod To Auction Basquiat and Prince Paintings

The baseball superstar is unloading two paintings at Phillips' 20th Century and Contemporary sale on June 27th as he prepares to marry Jennifer Lopez and start a new art collection.

A-Rod To Auction Basquiat and Prince Paintings

Although many know of A-Rod's athletic achievements, many are not aware that the former Yankees hitter is actually a passionate art collector. At his modernist home in Coral Gables, Florida, the walls are adorned with works from the biggest names in contemporary art: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, as well as newer names like Nate Lowman, Joe Bradley and Dan Colen.

A-Rod in front of Basquiat's Pink Elephant and Cab Engine. Image: Phillips
A-Rod in front of Basquiat's Pink Elephant and Cab Engine. Image: Phillips

Now, the baseball star is selling two of his works at Phillips this June as he prepares to wed Jennifer Lopez, to whom he got engaged in March. He said to Robert Manley, Phillips' worldwide co-head of 20th century and contemporary art, “I am starting a fresh chapter in my personal life, and after a decade of collecting on my own, I am excited to begin a new collecting journey with Jennifer. We are both committed to the arts, and will continue to be great patrons together.”

The two works, Pink Elephant with Fire Engine by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Mustang Painting by Richard Prince, will go under the hammer on June 27th at Phillips' 20th Century and Contemporary Sale in London.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pink Elephant with Fire Engine (1984). Image: Phillips.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pink Elephant with Fire Engine (1984). Image: Phillips.

Pink Elephant with Fire Engine carries an estimate of 3-4 million pounds ($3.7-5 million) and was painted in 1984. It was included in Basquiat's solo show at the Mary Boone Gallery in May 1984, which drew rave reviews for the then-24 year old. A few months later, due to the success of the gallery show, the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh in Scotland hosted the first solo museum exhibit of Basquiat. The large-scale work (7.1 x 5.6 ft) is dominated by painterly strokes in a sunny yellow shade as elements characteristic of Basquiat peer through: a sketch of an elephant-like cartoon figure, a brightly colored cab and scrawled shapes in neon pink, red, and more yellow. Basquiat is one of A-Rod's favorite artists and he also owns M.T. (1984), which is prominently displayed in the entrance foyer of his Florida home.

 Richard Prince, Mustang Painting (2014-16). Image: Phillips.
Richard Prince, Mustang Painting (2014-16). Image: Phillips.

Mustang Painting by Richard Prince depicts a Mustang car driving on an invisible road, seemingly suspended against a deep blue background and edged in bright, vibrant hues of orange, lime green, purple and turquoise. In his art, Prince deals with concepts like American pop culture, celebrity and masculinity, and the Mustang is one of the most iconic hot-rod cars popularized in film in the '60s and '70s. This work was conceived in inkjet and acrylic on canvas between 2014-2016 and carries an estimate between 700,000-1 million pounds ($880,000-1.25 million).

A-Rod's art collecting process is based on close relationships with the artists themselves. He told Architectural Digest in 2017, “I go to their studios and watch them do their work. And a lot of them come to see me play at Yankee Stadium." Furthermore, he looks for artists he can relate to, saying, "A number of gallerists and advisors pointed me in the right direction, and I have been in conversation with several artists, whose studio practice seem close to my own as an athlete."

Cover Image: Instagram

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