The mystery art collector who phoned in the winning $21.1 million bid at a Sotheby’s auction for a painting by African-American artist Kerry James Marshall has been revealed. That someone has turned out to be Grammy Award-winning record producer Sean Combs, aka Diddy, reports Marshall’s long-time art dealer, Jack Shainman. Entitled Past Times, the 13 x 9 foot canvas is a vibrant portrayal of a black family picnicking, boating, and waterskiing in a Chicago park. The hefty purchase price is believed to be the highest ever paid for a painting by a living African-American artist, notes the BBC. The painting was first sold to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority in Chicago for $25,000 in 1997, reports Artforum. It was expected to fetch about $8 million.
Known for his compelling scenes of African-American life, the 62-year-old classically trained painter was born in Alabama and lived in south central Los Angeles and Chicago, where he taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The painting will go into Combs' extensive collection, which includes artwork from Keith Haring, Ai Weiwei, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol. Combs has been collecting art since 2011. "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," Shainman tells the New York Times. Combs outbid four other prospective buyers. (Read more Sean Combs stories.)