Jean-Michel Basquiat’s tribute to the mad and bad world of William Burroughs – including the unfortunate night in Mexico when he shot and killed his wife in a William Tell game – is to be sold in London after 30 years in the same ownership.

Sotheby’s said the painting, bought directly from Basquiat himself, would be one of the highlights of its art sale on February 12th.

The painting makes direct references to an incident that understandably haunted Burroughs, the night in 1951 in Mexico that he shot at the tumbler of water on his wife Joan’s head; and missed. The writer, almost certainly high on drugs, spent a fortnight in jail before bribes led to his release and he was later given a two-year suspended jail sentence.

In Basquiat’s painting there is reference to “Burrough’s bullet” and possibly Burroughs’s profile on the back of a quarter-dollar coin dated 1951 with the word Liberty.

The work is valued at between £4.25m and £6.25m.

Chris Sabian is a portrait artist with http://www.kutefineart.com and owner of http://www.paragonprints.co.uk

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