The art world is buzzing over reports that iconic artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s former lover will sell the artist’s unseen works. Alexis Adler, an embryologist, purchased the East Village apartment that she and Basquiat shared from 1979 to 1980 which featured Basquiat’s artistic works. Working with auction house Christie, Adler will display the works Basquiat left all over the walls and doors including sketches on legal pads, notebooks, photographs, postcards and clothing. Adler also has the script for a play Basquiat wrote. Barbara Hoffman of the New York Post writes:
“In time, his works — on canvas — would sell for amazing sums; last year, Christie’s sold one of his paintings, “Dustheads,” for $48.8 million. He was at the height of his powers when he died in 1988 — a victim, says Adler, of heroin and overpowering pressure. He was 27-years-old.
Adler, meanwhile, married, had two children and divorced without ever leaving the railroad flat that she and Basquiat shared from 1979 to 1980. Nor did she erase anything he’d left behind — the ‘Olive Oyl’ he painted on the living-room wall, the ‘Famous Negro Athletes’ he inked on a door.
Now, nearly 35 years after they parted, Adler’s putting almost all of it on the auction block — lock, stock and door.
‘It became a burden,’ she says of the 40-odd pieces that Christie’s is billing as ‘Jean-Michel Basquiat: Works from the Collection of Alexis Adler,’ a monthlong exhibit and auction beginning Saturday. “I couldn’t hold onto everything, or leave it in a safe-deposit box. It’s not fair to Jean! It needs to get out into the world.”
The exhibit will be held at the Rockefeller Center March 1-28, 2014. There will be an online-only sale March 3-17. The sale is expected to bring in $3 million.