Christie’s to Auction $30 Million Basquiat Stretcher-Bar Painting

The 1982 painting is set to steal the show at Christie’s 21st Century evening sale this May in New York City.

Apr 13, 2024By Emily Snow, MA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial Studies



The Italian Version of Popeye Has No Pork in His Diet by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1982) is headed to auction at Christie’s on May 14. Estimated to fetch at least $30 million, the unique stretcher-bar painting is among the highlights of the auction house’s upcoming evening sales in New York.


Basquiat’s Stretcher-Bar Painting

The Italian Version of Popeye Has No Pork in His Diet by Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1982, via Christie’s


Painted by Jean-Michel Basquiat at the height of his career in 1982, The Italian Version of Popeye Has No Pork in His Diet is part of a series of canvases with visible stretcher bars. The five-by-five-foot painting showcases a swath of Basquiat’s unique visual iconography, including the artist’s signature crown motif, anatomical imagery, and crossed-out words. It was last publicly displayed in Milan in 2007 and comes from a private collection.


Alex Rotter, chairman of 20th- and 21st-century art at Christie’s, described this work as “Basquiat’s finest stretcher-bar painting” in a statement. He continued, “This 1982 painting shows Basquiat at his absolute best—deftly mixing symbols, text, and portraiture. The composition is frenzied and plentiful, drawing inspiration from so many of his iconic influences through history, sports, and contemporary media. You could enjoy a lifetime untangling everything here.”


A Major Month for Basquiat at Auction

Christie’s American headquarters at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan, New York, via Wikipedia


Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter

Christie’s is not the only auction house offering buyers a chance to bid on a Basquiat next month. At Phillips, three early Basquiat paintings from the private collection of anthropologist Francesco Pellizzi are collectively expected to fetch upwards of $60 million at May sales in New York City and Hong Kong. Sotheby’s is also offering a large-scale Basquiat-Warhol collaboration from 1984 with an estimated sale price of $18 million.


Basquiat’s 21st Century Legacy

Jean-Michel Basquiat photographed by Andy Warhol, 1982, via Wikipedia


Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) was an American Neo-expressionist artist whose provocative work and public persona catapulted him to fame in the 1980s. He got his start spray painting graffiti in Lower Manhattan in the late 1970s. By 1982, Basquiat had already sold out his first solo art exhibition and collaborated with celebrity Pop artist Andy Warhol.


Basquiat’s distinctive work explores aesthetic and thematic dichotomies. Blending visual art and the written word, his vibrant and symbol-packed paintings examine the nuances of power structures and social issues, particularly racism. Since Basquiat’s death at age 27 in 1988, his work has gained both popularity and market value. His short but influential career—during which he created around 600 paintings and 1,500 drawings—continues to resonate both in the art world and in popular culture.

Author Image

By Emily SnowMA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial StudiesEmily Snow is a contributing writer and art historian based in Amsterdam. She earned an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art and loves knitting, her calico cat, and everything Victorian.