U2's studio Basquiat sells for £5m

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The Independent Culture

A painting which hung in U2's recording studio in Dublin has been sold at auction for more than £5m, 19 years after it first caught the eye of the rock group's bass player, Adam Clayton, in a New York gallery.

Pecho/Oreja, by the former graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, was part of an auction at Sotheby's which raised £95m, a record for a summer sale of contemporary art in Europe. A private buyer paid £5,081,250 for the Basquiat work last night.

U2 bought the painting in 1989 after Clayton saw it in the Robert Miller Gallery, and it has remained in the band's joint collection since. New York-based Basquiat died in 1988 of a suspected drug overdose, but his work continues to inspire artists. The auction record for a Basquiat is £7.4m.

"It seems especially appropriate that a work by Basquiat should end up at a music studio, since so much has been said about the relationship between his art and music," said Oliver Barker, of Sotheby's.

Also sold was a 1:10 scale prototype of Antony Gormley's Angel of the North, which went for £2,281,250 following a six-way bidding battle. The guide price had been £800,000.

A 1967 Francis Bacon portrait, Study for Head of George Dyer, was also in the sale. The painting, described by Sotheby's as an "exceptionally rare, intimate" depiction of the love of Bacon's life, went for £13.7m.

The auction was the second such event in as many days. A Christie's sale on Monday had already proved that the economic downturn has failed to dent the global art market. Jeff Koons' Balloon Flower fetched £12.9m, a record for the artist, and Lucian Freud's Naked Portrait with Reflection sold for £11.8m. Last week, Christie's sold Monet's Waterlilies for a record £41m.