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Christie’s Sues Collector Jose Mugrabi for Failing to Complete Payment on $37 Million Basquiat

In a rare move, Christie’s is suing art investor Jose Mugrabi for missing the last two payments on a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting that were due on January 4 and February 15, the New York Post reports.

According to Christie’s Supreme Court filing, Mugrabi bought the acrylic painting The Field Next to the Other, 1981, last May for thirty-seven million dollars, but has only paid the auction house five million. Christie’s has banned Mugrabi from attending upcoming auctions.

A spokeswoman for the auction house said, “We repeatedly attempted to resolve the matter with Mr. Mugrabi. Unfortunately, our efforts failed and Christie’s felt it had no other alternative but to litigate.”

Mugrabi owns eight hundred works by Warhol, and in 2015 he was named one of the world’s most important art dealers by The Times.

The Basquiat painting, which depicts a figure leading a cow in a pastoral setting, was completed in 1981 when the artist was only twenty years old. Christie’s calls this year “crucial” for his development as an artist and says that this work “positioned Basquiat to become the artistic voice of his generation.”

Christie’s filed the lawsuit for the remaining balance of thirty-two million as well as 16 percent interest.

Mugrabi and his lawyer declined to comment to the Post.

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