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Basquiat siblings sue Christie's for $1 million claiming Basquiat pieces phony

Basquiat estate sues Christie's Auction House claiming they are selling phony Basquiat pieces.
Basquiat estate sues Christie's Auction House claiming they are selling phony Basquiat pieces.
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Basquiat’s siblings have filed a $1 million lawsuit against Christie’s Auction House claiming that they are selling phony Basquiat works, which were never authenticated. The family members of Jean-Michel Basquiat, who handle the late artist’s estate, have an authentication committee that is used before declaring any work of art an original Basquiat, according to the New York Daily News on March 4.

Christie’s has roughly 50 Basquiat pieces at auction this month and the artist's siblings, Jeanine Basquiat Heriveaux and Lisan Basquiat, claim in the lawsuit that most of the auction pieces have not been authenticated by the group. When Christie’s sent seven pieces for this process last year, the committee found one out of the seven was a phony, but the others were their brother’s original art pieces.

Those six pieces in the auction are the only pieces that have been deemed as Basquiat’s original work. The other 44 pieces have not been presented to the committee by Christie’s for authentication.

Christie’s knows that the pieces are authentic Basquiat works because they received the artwork from a private collector, Bisquiat’s lover Alexis Adler. The artist's siblings say in the lawsuit that Christie’s didn’t submit these pieces to the estate’s committee because they had reason to believe the items were fake.

Those are some harsh allegations especially because Christie’s Auction House is one of the most respected on the globe. The suit also alleges that Christie’s is misleading the buyers by inserting a notice in its catalog that the pieces have been copyrighted by the estate.

Conveying the items are copyrighted is a move the lawsuit says is misleading and done only to push up the prices, as the estate committee was never given the pieces to authenticate. The lawsuit is asking for $1 million and asking for a court order so that Christie’s cannot use the estate’s name in the auction.

Basquiat, who rubbed elbows with Andy Warhol and his group of the rich and famous, died in 1987 of a heroin overdose.

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