New York – A 1982 untitled Basquiat sold for $110.5 million in New York on Thursday, setting a new auction record for the US artist in Sotheby’s flagship post-war and contemporary art sale, the auction house said.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, the US wonderkid of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, who died in 1988 of an overdose at the age of 27, has been catapulted into the rostrum of 20th century greats by the rising value of his work.

A tense bidding war lasted for around 10 minutes between a client in Sotheby’s New York showroom and another on the telephone, with the telephone buyer ultimately clinching the top bid.

The skull-like head on a giant canvas in oil-stick, acrylic and spray paint called “Untitled” was the star lot of the May auction season in New York and had been valued pre-sale in excess of $60 million.

Loud cheers and applause greeted the conclusion of the sale, which almost doubled the previous Basquiat record of $57 million, set for a self-portrait snapped up by a Japanese billionaire at Sotheby’s last year.

© AFP Don Emmert Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 painting 'Untitled' sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby's flagship post-war and contemporary art sale in New York on May 18, 2017, setting a new auction record for the US artist

© AFP Don Emmert – Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 painting ‘Untitled’ sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s flagship post-war and contemporary art sale in New York on May 18, 2017, setting a new auction record for the US artist