Photo © Edo Bertoglio, courtesy of Maripol

Works from 1981 and 1982 are the most desired on the market, with Basquiat's top 5 sold works all from these years. These years marked Basquiat's explosive transition from being a graffiti artist to a fine artist.

Barbican Art Gallery's exhibition Basquiat: Boom for Real, which will run until 28 January 2018, is the first large-scale show in the UK of the artist's work. Over 100 works place Basquiat in the context of the New York's evolving cultural scene, delving into his relationship with musicians, writers and filmmakers.

Basquiat's works which feature skulls and anatomical drawings, famously inspired by the copy of Gray's Anatomy his mother gave to him, are the most prized amongst collectors. But with such an experimental, ever-changing style in such a short time period (sadly, the artist passes away at the age of 27) there is so much for Basquiat collector's to discover.

In The Art of Jean-Michel Basquiat Fred Hoffman explains how just a year after his death,  Herbert and Lenore Schorr offered the Museum of Modern Art in New York a Basquiat painting from their collection as a gift, to which the MoMA replied, ''The museum replied that having a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat was not even worth the cost of the storage.''

We delve into Barnebys Realized Prices to uncover the stories behind Basquiat's 5 most expensive paintings ever sold.

1. Untitled, 1982

Sold for $110.5 million

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This year, the auction record for a work by Basquiat was smashes at Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art evening auction when Untitled, 1982, sold for $110.5 million.

The piece was purchased by collector and e-commerice entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa for a record price for any work by an American artist. Here come the facts and figures, Untitled was also bought for the highest price ever paid for an artwork created post 1980; the second highest price for any contemporary artwork at auction and the 6th highest price for any artwork sold at auction ever.

The piece has been virtually unseen since it last appeared on the market in May of 1984, when it sold for $19 000. This work earned Basquiat his place as an artist that has sold for over $100 million at auction amongst Picasso, Modigliani, Bacon, Munch, Warhol and Giacometti. Search realized prices on Barnebys here for more.

2. Untitled, 1982

Sold for $57 285 000

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In 2016, Yusaku Maezawa purchased this epic canvas by Basquait at Christie's. Measuring more than sixteen feet wide and nearly eight feet tall, it is also one of the artist's largest canvases. Made at the age of just 22, the central figure is a demon, created using impulsive brushwork and rich color. The dramatic figure dominates the canvas in Basquiat's homage to his change in career from street artist to the studio. A heroic self-portrait with Basquiat depicting himself as a devil rising amidst an explosion of expressive gestures. The viewer is hypnotized, trapped by the devil's spellbinding stare

This is the largest in a series of paintings which Basquiat undertook during two periods he spent in Modena, Italy, in the spring of 1981 and 1982.

3.  Dustheads, 1982

Sold for $48 843 752

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Previous to Untitled, 1982, Dustheads had been Basquiat's most expensive work sold at auction since 2013. It was sold at Christie's for over $48 million, smashing the $35 million high estimate. According to the provenance, the present owner acquired the piece from Tony Shafrazi, one of Basquiat's earliest dealers.

Set against a backdrop of intense, inky blackness, the brightly colored figures in Dustheads represent the ultimate tour-de-force of expressive line, color and form that has come to represent the artist's iconic painterly oeuvre.

4. The Field Next to the Other Road, 1981

Sold for $37 125 000

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Basquiat's 13 feet wide canvas The Field Next to the Other Road sold at Christie's in the spring of 2015. Painted in 1981, the piece is one of the artist's earliest monumental canvases and the largest painting the artist executed that year. It features one of his earliest fully realized human figures—a motif which would later come to define his career. Part-mythical and part-allegorical, Basquiat's energetic portrayal of a meeting between man and beast was painted during his first trip to Modena, where he traveled for his first solo exhibition in Europe.

5. Untitled, 1981

Sold for $34 885 000

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Untitled sold at Christie's in the spring of 2014. Its present owner acquired the piece from the Annina Nosei Gallery, where it had been since 1982.

This is Jean-Michel Basquiat's conqueror of 1981. It marks the year the artist evolved from SAMO, the underground artist, to Jean-Michel Basquiat, the rising star of the art world. This piece is the personification of his success, Basquiat's warrior is in part an emblem to this success, embodying the artist's own feelings of triumph after his sudden rocket to international art world fame. Just as Basquiat, the 'king of the streets,' had conquered the art of the city's walls, in this piece, he becomes the warrior of the art establishment.

This masterpiece from Basquiat's most inspired period was executed at the precise moment in Basquiat's career when he was channeling the raw energy of his street art into the medium of fine art. It captures his unmatched talents as an artist and painter.

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