Basquiat Collaborators Distance Themselves From Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Tiffany Ad

Basquiat Collaborators Distance Themselves From Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Tiffany Ad

Fresh off her 40th birthday, Beyoncé is dealing with more backlash over her Tiffany & Co. campaign.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z recently appeared in a new campaign from Tiffany & Co. that featured a never-before-seen Basquiat original, and friends of the artist aren’t happy about it.

According to a recent report from the Daily Beast, several close friends and collaborators of the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died in 1988, have spoken out against the campaign. 

“I’d seen the ad a couple days ago and I was horrified,” said Alexis Adler, who reportedly lived with Basquiat from 1979 to 1980. “The commercialization and commodification of Jean and his art at this point—it’s really not what Jean was about.” She added that if Basquiat were alive today, he would’ve wanted his paintings readily available for the public to see at museums.

“Unfortunately, the museums came to Jean’s art late, so most of his art is in private hands and people don’t get to see that art except for the shows. Why show it as a prop to an ad?” said Adler. “Loan it out to a museum. In a time where there were very few Black artists represented in Western museums, that was his goal: to get to a museum.”

On a Facebook post Stephen Torton, Basquiat’s former assistant, co-signed what Adler said, stating, “this very perverse appropriation of the artist’s inspiration is too much.”


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A post shared by Stephen Torton (@stephen_torton)

He said in part: “I was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s assistant. I designed and built stretchers, painted backgrounds, glued drawings down on canvas, chauffeured, travelled extensively, spoke freely about many topics and worked endless hours side by side in silence. The idea that this blue background, which I mixed and applied, was in any way related to Tiffany Blue is so absurd that at first I chose not to comment. But this very perverse appropriation of the artist’s inspiration is too much.
« They » tortured his legacy with condescending bullshit in The LV show in Paris.”

Tiffany Campaign

Last month, Jay-Z and Beyoncé revealed they were a part of the Tiffany campaign, which features photos by Mason Poole. In a statement, Tiffany’s executive VP of products and communications said that the company had a feeling the color choice in the painting “has to be some kind of homage” to the brand.

But as BLACK ENTERPRISE reported, there remains much controversy surrounding Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s camp after she made history posing alongside a rare art piece from the late, great artist as the first Black woman to wear an iconic Tiffany & Co. Yellow Diamond.

According to The Sun, after critics bashed the singer for wearing a “blood diamond,” a source stated that “Beyoncé is aware of the criticism and is disappointed and angry that she wasn’t made aware of questions about its history. She thought that every final detail had been vetted, but now she realizes that the diamond itself was overlooked.”