Last weekend, an unidentified person painted over the tribute-filled, heavily graffitied façade of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s old apartment building in Manhattan’s Bowery neighborhood with a shade of Pepto-Bismol pink.
A plaque honoring Basquiat on the building’s exterior was also smeared in pink paint. The incident was first reported by the local East Village news site EV Grieve on August 28.
In July, Hollywood star and philanthropist Angelina Jolie signed an eight-year lease on the 6,600 square-foot space for her new creative venture, Atelier Jolie, through which she plans to support an international network of tailors. Atelier Jolie has not responded to Hyperallergic‘s request for comment.
The two-story building at 57 Great Jones Street once belonged to Andy Warhol who had leased it to Basquiat as a studio and living space between 1983 and 1988. After Basquiat’s untimely death, the building’s façade became a collaborative shrine to his artistry with street artists from all over the country making the pilgrimage to wheatpaste or tag its doors and brick walls for decades.
This afternoon, August 31, a street artist by the name of Doodlehedz was onsite making significant progress in peeling away the layer of pink paint that was rolled over the building’s doors and walls. Based in Harlem but working in the area, Doodlehedz heard about what happened and made her way over after her shift and began hacking away with a small pocket knife.
“It’s just so disrespectful to paint over the plaque knowing what Basquiat means to us [street artists] and the community and the world and just pop culture in general,” the incensed artist told Hyperallergic as she peeled strips of pink-colored paper off the doors, revealing colorful tatters of old wheat-pasted messaging and designs beneath. “This is people’s heart and soul, and this person didn’t think about that.”