Jean-Michel Basquiat’s secret additions to his paintings have been unearthed.

Basquiat, whose work often acted as a social commentary of the climate he lived in, attempted to act as the “springboard to deeper truths about the individual”. His merging of poetry, drawing, and painting within abstract contemporary art saw his work reach mainstream acclaim in the 1980s prior to his untimely death at the age of 27.

In 2017, Basquiat’s 1982 painting (“Untitled”) which depicts a skull, was sold at Sotheby’s for a record $110.5 million – an amount which set a record for any American artist at auction. Given the extreme value of his work, a client in possession of a 1981 Basquiat painting “Untitled (1981)” approached art conservator Emily Macdonald-Korth in order to examine its authenticity. It was during her inspection that Macdonald-Korth spotted the invisible ink while using a UV light to analyse the work.

Speaking to Artnet News she said: “I’ve never seen anything like it. He basically did a totally secret part of this painting.”

“He must have been playing with a UV flashlight and thought, ‘this is cool.’ It really relates to his use of erasure.”

Macdonald-Korth also believes more Basquiat work could have hidden messages and is asking for any owners of his paintings to examine them with a UV light.

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