A huge painting by American street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, estimated to sell for about US$30 million at auction, is coming to Sotheby’s in May.

The roughly 12-foot (3.6-metre)-by-12-foot Flesh and Spirit is being sold by the estate of Dolores Ormandy Neumann, an early champion of 1980s New York graffiti artists, including Basquiat.

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It will be offered during the Contemporary Art Sale in New York on May 16.

The collector bought it for US$15,000 in 1983 – the year it was completed – from an exhibition at Tony Shafrazi Gallery, according to Sotheby’s. 

The painting’s title was inspired by Yale University art historian Robert Farris Thompson’s book Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy

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It consists of several attached canvases and includes diagrams, text and images of disconnected body parts, brain and bones.

“It’s raw, and at the same time, it’s elegant,” said Anthony Grant, a New York-based art dealer. “Between the iconography, scale and material, it’s got everything.“

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It’s the most expensive work by Basquiat – who died of a drugs overdose aged 27 in 1988 – to go on the block since Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa bought a painting of a skull by the artist at Sotheby’s for US$110.5 million last May. 

This was the auction record for an American artist.

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