Diddy, whose real name is Sean Combs, has been revealed to be the buyer of Kerry James Marshall’s monumental painting Past Times (1997), which sold for $21.1 million at Sotheby’s on Tuesday (May 15).
The result is a world auction record for the artist, and is thought to be the highest price ever paid for an artwork by a living African-American artist.
The painting, Past Times, depicts black Americans picnicking, waterskiing and listening to music in a Chicago park. It measures up at an imposing four metres (13ft) wide.
Jack Shainman, Marshall’s gallerist and art dealer, confirmed the identity of the new owner.
“I know that this work has found a home in a collection with purpose and an eye toward preserving legacy – that of Sean Combs – and that means a lot,” he told the New York Times.
The painting had been expected to fetch around $8m. In the event, its price was four times higher than the previous record for a work by 62-year-old Marshall.
Chicago’s Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) sold Past Times for more than 800 times what it paid in 1997, the year the work was completed.
The MPEA originally bought the piece for $25,000 from the Los Angeles Koplin Gallery.
Marshall is a classically trained painter whose focus has been conveying the African American experience through art, to combat stereotypes, and introduce nuanced, realistic portrayals.
His inspirations range from Rembrandt to Paolo Veronese, and he isn’t slowing down.