Detail of Mark Bradford’s “Helter Skelter I” (2007).


ART MARKET HISTORY WAS MADE earlier this month when “Helter Skelter I,” a monumental painting by Mark Bradford sold for $10.4 million (nearly $12 million, including fees) at Phillips London. The price was the highest-ever achieved at auction for a work by a living African American artist. Who purchased it? The Broad announced its acquisition of Bradford’s 34-foot painting on Friday. The Los Angeles museum, which already has several other paintings by Bradford in its collection, also added works by Julie Mehretu and Kerry James Marshall, among others to its holdings.

“Mark Bradford’s work has been increasingly central to the Broad collection over the past 12 years, and we are proud to acquire Helter Skelter I, which is among the most significant works he has ever produced. Exemplifying Bradford’s ‘social abstraction,’ Helter Skelter I is a masterpiece that references a chilling period in Los Angeles history—cult leader Charles Manson’s malevolent obsession with inciting a race war in the late 1960s, which he called ‘Helter Skelter,’” Joanne Heyler, founding director and chief curator of The Broad, said in a statement.

“Helter Skelter I, like many of Bradford’s works, confronts the economic and social structures that perpetuate issues of power, race and crime. It is a powerful work that deepens our Bradford holdings, and will become a centerpiece in our galleries.”

The museum’s plans for the installation of Bradford’s “Helter Skelter I” are underway.


Lot 14: MARK BRADFORD, Detail of “Helter Skelter I,” 2007 (mixed media collage on canvas, 144 x 407 7/8 inches). | Estimate £6,000,000 – £8,000,000 ($8.3 million – $11 million). Sold for £7,500,000 ($10,359,750) hammer price, £8,671,500 ($11,977,943) including fees.


John McEnroe, the tennis champion and ESPN analyst, consigned “Helter Skelter I” for sale in Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale. Before bids began, the mural-sized painting was positioned to reach a record result with the estimate set at approximately $8.3 million–$11 million, which far exceeded Bradford’s previous auction high mark. The Broad museum paid the equivalent of $10,359,750 (hammer price), $11,977,943 (including fees).

Los Angeles-based Bradford’s previous auction record was set more than two years ago when “Constitution IV” sold at Phillips London for £3,778,500 ($5,743,320 million) on Oct. 14, 2015. Then, on March 6, 2018, “Bear Running from the Shotgun” by Bradford brought £3,833,750 ($5,325,079) at Christie’s London—a momentary high mark before “Helter Skelter I” sold two days later for a new artist record. (The London sales were in pounds, determining the record prices, which vary when converted to US dollars based on exchange rates at the time of each auction.)

In 2013, a crystal-embellished basketball hoop chandelier by David Hammons sold for $8 million including fees at Phillips New York. The sale landed Hammons on the artnet News top 10 list of most expensive living American artists, making him no. 1 among living African American artists. “Helter Skelter” surpassed this previous record, elevating Bradford’s work to the most expensive ever by a living African American artist at auction.

McEnroe, the collector and consignor, capitalized on the record-setting sale price. The artist, however, did not directly benefit from the increased value of “Helter Skelter I,” though the benchmark should reflect positively on Bradford’s primary market.

THE BROAD’S ANNOUNCEMENT included more than a dozen works acquired in 2017 and 2018 by a variety of contemporary artists. A second work by Bradford, “I heard you got arrested today” (2018) will be exhibited at the museum this summer. An untitled 2017 painting by Kerry James Marshall depicts two men looking at a field of color and is The Broad’s first work by the Chicago-based artist. “Congress” (2003), an abstract ink and acrylic painting by Mehretu, who lives and works in New York, complements four of her other works in the museum’s collection.

Works by Sam Francis, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Sherrie Levine, Sharon Lockhart, Robert Longo, Julie Mehretu, Lari Pittman, Thomas Struth, Jeff Wall and Jonas Wood, have also been brought into the collection. CT


TOP IMAGE: MARK BRADFORD, Detail “Helter Skelter I,” 2007 (mixed media collage on canvas, 144 x 407 7/8 inches). | © Mark Bradford


“Mark Bradford: Tomorrow is Another Day” was published to coincide with his solo exhibition in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Released last month, “Mark Bradford: Pickett’s Charge” complements the artist’s installation at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum—Bradford’s largest work to date, and his first-ever exhibition in Washington, D.C. “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” a comprehensive, cloth-covered catalog was published to accompany the artist’s 30-year survey.


KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “Untitled,” 2017 (acrylic on PVC panel, 27.75 x 23.5 inches). | The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection, © Kerry James Marshall


“This painting by Kerry James Marshall brings into the collection a significant American artist whom we have long admired, and whose work provokes important dialogue about how the black figure and the black artist have been portrayed and received in—or left out of—Western art history,” said Joanne Heyler, founding director and chief curator of The Broad.


JULIE MEHRETU, “Congress,” 2003 (ink and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 96 inches). | The Broad Art Foundation, © Julie Mehretu


MARK BRADFORD, “I heard you got arrested today,” 2018 (mixed media on canvas, 120 x 120 inches). | Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Joshua White, The Broad Art Foundation. © Mark Bradford


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