Ken Griffin pays $ 100 million for Basquiat painting amid racial protests

Ken Griffin pays $ 100 million for Basquiat painting amid racial protests

Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin has disbursed more than $ 100 million for a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the late black artist whose works focused on race and inequality.

The Citadel CEO, who last year paid $ 240 million for a penthouse in Central Park, bought the 1982 masterpiece “Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump” from New York socialite Peter Brant, sources confirmed.

The timing of the nine-figure deal may seem awkward as racial protests continue to plague the US. But art experts said a deal of this size was likely to be in process long before the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police late last month.

And while Griffin’s big buy in Basquiat might be opportunistic despite its stratospheric price, sources said Brant, one of Basquiat’s biggest backers in the 1980s, was surely making a good profit.

“If Peter Brant is selling a Basquiat privately, he is likely to make a 100 percent profit,” said an art expert.

Griffin’s big buy comes as most art galleries remain closed due to the pandemic and big purchases have been hampered by an uncertain economic forecast. While the prices of major works of art are generally not correlated with financial crises, sales volume may suffer considerably, said Scott Lynn, founder and CEO of art investment platform Masterworks.

In fact, pieces that generally remain in private collections can suddenly appear on the market during a crisis as collectors seek to capitalize on a prized asset, Lynn added.

Brant, 73, is a Griffin neighbor in Palm Beach, Florida. In addition to his own famous collection, Brant founded Interview Magazine with Andy Warhol. In May 2019, the Brant non-profit foundation opened its space in the East Village with an exhibition of Basquiat’s works, many of which were owned by Brant himself.

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Griffin, a 51-year-old Chicago-based financier with an estimated value of $ 15 billion, paid $ 19 million for a new wing at the Chicago Institute of Art in 2006. In 2015, he donated $ 40 million to the Museum of Art. Modern. He also caused a stir in the art world last year when he resigned in protest, and then joined the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art almost immediately.

In addition to great encouragement in the major works of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, Griffin has collected works by female and minority artists, including Lee Krasner, Isa Genzken, Mark Bradford, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Virgil Abloh.

“The vast majority of Ken’s art collection is displayed in museums for the public to enjoy,” said Citadel spokeswoman Megan Ingersoll. “He intends to share this piece as well.”

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Cory Weinberg

About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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