An attic find of original artworks which includes some by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat – literally unseen by anyone since being stored away more than 30 years ago – will finally see the light of day in an auction planned for Saturday, December 2, 2017, by John McInnis Auctioneers, in the firm’s gallery at 76 Main Street, Amesbury, MA starting at 1 PM ET, as part of their two-day sale of the contents of the Harriett (Woodsom) Gould estate, the family country home in Amesbury.
Those that are familiar with Andy Warhol will recognize the name of Jon Gould as his closest companion in the 1980s. Gould was a collector of art and many pieces he purchased and acquired were exhibited in Vermont a number of years ago and are not part of this sale. The items found here in the family home were hidden away, many, more personal in nature.
The artworks, plus other items relating to Warhol and Basquiat and other pop art luminaries of the era such as Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, were only recently unpacked now that the home is to be sold to settle the estate, as Mrs. Gould passed away in December 2016. Jon, Harriett’s son, not only ran in the same circles as Warhol and Basquiat, he was a close friend and confidante of both artists.
Offered will be an intentionally broken stretched canvas abstraction-painting-turned-sculpture by Warhol, signed “Jon / Andy Warhol ‘83”; a copy of Warhol’s book Exposures, twice-signed by him; an aluminum sculpture by Warhol, signed to Jon; a stitched charcoal and wove paper, also signed to Gould; a nine-print photographic stitch collage by Warhol; and one of Warhol’s iconic Marilyn images.
Jon Gould died at age 33 on September 18, 1986, six months prior to Warhol. Gould led a double life of sorts, one with Warhol in New York City and another in his work life in Los Angeles. He held a high-power corporate job as vice president at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. But in his other life, he was a major part of the ’80s New York pop art scene, where he cultivated an intimate relationship with Warhol and his circle.
It’s well documented that Warhol showered Gould with gifts during their time together, after first meeting towards the end of 1980. The items uncovered here bring to life the complex love and relationship they had for and with each other. The auction includes many of these very items, which Jon kept at his homes in Manhattan and Beverly Hills. Upon Jon’s death, his mother packaged up virtually everything her son owned and shipped it all back to Amesbury. That is where these items sat, undisturbed, these many years.
“It’s a blessing in a way that Harriet Gould was, as Andy was, a collector, as anyone who enters her home would attest,” said Dan Meader, Director at John McInnis Auctioneers who was assigned, after the family had worked for months, the task of going through every box and wrapped object in the home, one by one, and putting together the pieces to let the items tell the story of this unique companionship.
“Jon and Andy’s relationship was a complex one and by all accounts Andy was infatuated and in love with Jon, here for the first time we see a bit of the other side of the relationship,” Meader said. “In Andy’s prior relationships, he did not shower them with gifts. This love with Jon was a challenge like he never had. He acted much differently with him and presented him with many personal expressions of objects and art.”
Most of the first 130 objects in the more than 350-lot auction are gifts from Andy to Jon. These include artworks, books, photos, 15 or so Native American objects (baskets, beadwork and quillwork), several glass pieces (to include Lalique and Baccarat), a pair of carousel horses, Adirondack furniture, clothing and other items. Five lots in the auction are relating to Basquiat.
Perhaps no other item in the sale expresses the complexity of Warhol and Gould’s relationship than the synthetic polymer on stretched canvas painting that Warhol intentionally fashioned, a painting/sculpture. Titled Abstraction – A Gift to Jon Gould, the 16-inch by 25-inch work is emotional and thought-provoking. To understand the reality of expression in Warhol’s work, the lot includes several copies of poems, previously unseen, that Gould penned to Warhol. Nothing could be more familiar to an artist such as Warhol, as a stretched canvas. Warhol broke the stretchers, forming it into a shape, then painted it. A tragedy of sorts, this moving piece seems to symbolize what was going on in their relationship and evokes much thought.
That is the expected top lot of the sale, with an estimate of $500,000-$1 million, but not all the items are pricey. The copy of Exposures (Grossett & Dunlap, NY, 1979), for example, signed once on the dust jacket (“To John / Andy”) and once on the title page, rather cryptically (“To Jon, Without Love – Love, Andy Pandy”), carries a reasonable presale estimate of $150-$300.
The synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on aluminum sheeting sculpture by Warhol, borrowing a front page from the New York Post and titled Marine Death Toll Hits 172, 24 inches by 20 inches, signed “Jon / Andy Warhol ’83,” should bring $40,000-$60,000; while the charcoal on wove and color-coated, stitched paper titled Body Builder, signed and inscribed “Jon 82” and originally meant as a triptych, measuring 16 inches by 23-1/2 inches, has an estimate of $20,000-$30,000.
The photographic collage of nine uniquely stitched gelatin silver prints, housed in a 38-inch by 31-1/2-inch frame and with the lowest image embossed “Andy Warhol,” comes with a 1982 mint julep cup given to Jon and Andy by Gov. John Brown of Kentucky, along with two tickets to the Kentucky Derby, relating to the stitched photo. The piece has an estimate of $10,000-$20,000.
Perhaps no other image is as closely linked with Warhol’s body of work as his iconic Marilyn portrait, which is often repeated and can command dizzying dollars at auction. In this sale, an invitation to the Factory Editions event, Andy Warhol, A Print Retrospective, 1963-1981, which ran from November 21-December 22, 1981 in New York, showing one image of Marilyn, 1967 on the front and measuring 12 inches by 12 inches, signed “Jon / Andy”, is expected to hit $5,000-$10,000.
A birthday card collage, with folded, cut and arranged children’s birthday greeting cards, signed “Jon…love Andy Warhol” and measuring 14 inches by 11-1/4 inches in a period Plexiglas frame, should also command $5,000-$10,000. Other artists’ names in the auction, besides Warhol, will include photographer Christopher Makos, Roy Lichtenstein, Antonio Lopez, Marcel Duchamp, Peter H. Beard, James Mac, Oliver Sanchez, Salvador Dali and Thomas Mails, among others.
While the Warhol items, and the relationship between the artist and Jon Gould, will dominate the auction, short shrift should not be given to the five lots pertaining to Jean-Michel Basquiat, who, like Gould, died young (at age 27, from a heroin overdose, in 1988), especially since he holds the current record for an artwork by an American artist at auction, at $110.5 million. The untitled painting, from 1982, eclipsed the previous record of $104.5 million set by Andy Warhol in 2013.
Being sold are gifts to Gould from Basquiat, a pair of untitled, 9-inch-tall painted vases by Basquiat, signed “J.B.” under the base and each estimated at $40,000-$80,000; and a circa-1983 leather jacket with an image of Basquiat’s face inside a Jack of Hearts playing card on the back, signed “Rags” and believed to have been done by Michael J. Raglin, who was in the circle of Warhol (est. $10,000-$20,000).
Also sold will be a Stelton Thermos, designed by Erik Magnussen and painted and decorated by Basquiat, inscribed “Jon” and signed “JB” (est. $5,000-$10,000); and a gelatin silver print of a black and white photo, titled Jon Gould and Jean-Michel Basquiat, unsigned (est. $500-$1,000).
For those unable to attend the auction in person, internet bidding will be facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com and Invaluable.com. Telephone and absentee bids will also be accepted. The December 2 auction will be preceded by a live-only discovery sale of other items, removed from the estate, on Friday, December 1.
Exhibitions will be held on Thursday, November 30, from 2 PM to 6 PM, and both auction days, when the gallery opens at 9 AM, and continuing throughout the day. All times quoted are Eastern time.
John McInnis Auctioneers is the largest full-service auction house on Boston’s North Shore. The firm’s 12,000-square-foot gallery is a 1930s brick Art Deco building that once housed a grocery store. A full staff of experts is proficient in 18th, 19th, and 20th century fine and decorative arts.
John McInnis Auctioneers is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign a single piece, a collection or an estate, you may call them at (978) 388-0400, or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about John McInnis Auctioneers and the auctions planned for December 1 and 2, log on to www.mcinnisauctions.com.