Metallica drummer to sell $12 million Basquiat painting

Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:04pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A painting by famed graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat will be auctioned next month as it comes to the market from an unlikely source -- Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

Ulrich may be a heavy metal drummer by trade, but he's also a noted collector of fine art.

He bought the 1982 Basquiat painting "Untitled (Boxer)" in 1999, and is hoping it could generate bids of as much as $12 million when it goes under the hammer.

The painting goes on view at Christie's in London on Friday for a week, before it is sold at the auction house's Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale in New York on November 12.

"As a collector I view myself as a caretaker of works of art, rather than simply an owner," said Ulrich.

"I've been fortunate enough to have shared 10 great years with this truly iconic painting by Basquiat and it's time to put it back into circulation and let someone else enjoy it as much as I have over the last decade."

Ulrich's father was Danish tennis champion Torben Ulrich, who was part of Copenhagen's art and music scene in the 1950s and 1960s and at first the drummer was drawn to works by European avant garde artists such as Asger Jorn and Karen Appel.

Metallica's founding member, songwriter and drummer then started to collect graffiti artists such as Jean Dubuffet, Sam Francis and Basquiat.

"I have the best collection of Asger Jorn on this planet," Ulrich told Playboy magazine in 2001. "I have what is universally considered as one of the two greatest Basquiat paintings; I spent a year-and-a-half chasing it down.   Continued...

<p>Lars Ulrich of Metallica shouts during the 13th Annual MTV Europe Music Awards 2006 show in Bella Center in Copenhagen, November 2, 2006. REUTERS/Alex Grimm</p>