Last year, a treasure by Jean-Michel Basquiat was rediscovered – an impressive portrait of close friend and fellow artist Andy Warhol. Basquiat’s portraits rarely attempt to render true likeliness, so this clear depiction of the artist will make it all the more special (and irresistible to collectors).
It’s discovery came very soon after Basquiat’s skull painting of 1982 made auction history, fetching an enormous $110,000,000 at Sotheby’s last year. So why has this painting been hidden away from the public eye until now? In short, Warhol hated it, claiming he looked like a ‘pockmarked phantom of the opera’. This is likely because of the huge angular nose that dominates the centre of the composition. The painting reflects Warhol’s self-consciousness, which led him to plead with Basquiat to have it destroyed. The artist promised to cut the piece up, but could not bring himself to do it – he loved it simply because it reminded him of his friend. So, instead of destroying it, Basquiat had it buried in safe storage.
Those with whom Basquiat left the painting took Warhol’s honor into great consideration, finally releasing it to a small audience after concluding it a very obvious tribute to Warhol, as he sits under a crown and alongside the word ‘EVERLAST’.