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The World of Warhol

When it came to making out a will, however, Warhol was definitely not star-struck; the document includes not a single surprising beneficiary. Instead, the will neatly turns over virtually everything to the newly created Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. This includes $11 million in personal property, film archives, art reserves, and the recently profitable Interview. Another $4 million is in real estate—although this seems like a low estimate, considering that Warhol owned 20 acres in Montauk, 40 acres near Aspen, his town-house, the former Con Ed station on East 32nd Street that houses Interview, and the SoHo building rented by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The directors of the foundation will be Warhol's business manager and executor, Fred Hughes; Hughes's second-in-command, Vincent Fremont; and one of the artist's brothers, John Warhola. To the extent possible, the directors say, the foundation will continue Warhol's enterprises.

There are also no surprises expected in the value of Warhol's art. A catalogue raisonné that was being produced in Germany at the time of his death should be available in a month or two.

"It should give us a good idea of what's real and what may have been run off without Warhol's consent," says an art dealer who's followed Warhol's career for 30 years. "And there are Warhol shows in Germany and Austria in the next two months that should give us a better idea of the appreciation in Warhol prices. But already [since his death], we've seen the prices of his prime prints—the Monroes, the flowers, the Mick Jaggers—go up an immediate 50 percent."

That Warhol is a hot property again could be seen in other places last week. In literary hangouts, the talk was of Bob Colacello's biography of Warhol. Proposed last October, it was commissioned for $400,000 by G. P. Putnam's Sons a few days before Warhol's death. At Interview, burly security guards manned the door. Behind them, the walls were dotted with Warhols and the floor was littered with crates filled with Warhol's most recent art purchases. The effect was eerie—rather like the scene in Citizen Kane in which workers bundle up art treasures in the castle of a man who could buy everything but immortality.

A few weeks ago, Pat Hackett and Andy Warhol had a conversation about John Ford movies. Hackett had just been to see one, and Warhol had a fondness for them, too. "But Andy, they have everything the sixties movies were trying to get away from—scripts, plots, endings," Hackett said. "Well, maybe that's the way it really works," Warhol replied.

Certainly, that was true for Andy Warhol's life and career. His friends are shocked by his death, but Warhol, who had a perfect sense of timing, had recently completed his version of the Last Supper. It had taken him more than a year, and it is now displayed in a Milan gallery, directly across the street from Leonardo's masterpiece.

The largest of the silk screens includes two images of Christ, one upside down. In his last interview, with art critic Paul Taylor for Flash Art magazine, Warhol explained that doubled image. "They're like the two popes," he said. "The European pope and the American pope." Taylor asked Warhol who the American pope was. "The American pope is the pope of Pop," Warhol said, with a self-referring smile.

If "Andy Warhol"—the Warhol of soup cans and the Factory—had said that, it would have been posturing and self-promotion. Twenty years later, with Warhol a changed person, the remark was neither of those things. In 1987, the year that Warhol could not wish death away, it was the bottom line.

Lucy Schulte helped report this article.


  • Archive: “Art Features
  • From the Sep 9, 1987 issue of New York