The Vered Gallery continues to try to drum up interest in their Andy Warhol portrait of Michael Jackson in his heyday. Now the New York Times adds a spooky wrinkle with this story of a the only painting Jackson posed for being sold out of a Harlem car dealership:
The 50-by-40-inch painting, called “The Book,” was done in 1990 by an Australian artist, Brett-Livingstone Strong, who was a close friend of Mr. Jackson and shared his taste for slightly fantastical style of life and dress. […] Mr. Strong and Mr. Jackson formed an art business partnership, the Jackson-Strong Alliance, around 1989 and 1990 to display their art work, which included this portrait. The two were brainstorming how to raise money for charity when Mr. Strong mentioned that a Japanese businessman, Hiromichi Saeki, had offered millions of dollars for a portrait of Mr. Jackson.
Mr. Jackson said he would sit for it if the buyer agreed to pay a world record — ultimately $2.1 million, then reported as the highest amount ever paid for a living person. “Sometime later he told me he would have made $5 million for it,” Mr. Strong said. The businessman later went bankrupt and gave the painting to Mr. Abrams. […]
he painting is owned by two toy inventors, Marty Abrams and John Gentilly, who received the painting in 1992 from a Japanese businessman who had bought it to make good on a debt he owed the inventors.
“If someone came with a legitimate offer, I’d probably sell it,” said Mr. Abrams, who lives in Great Neck. He tried selling it when he first took possession of it in 1992, but couldn’t find any good offers.
“I couldn’t get anyone at that time interested in the painting,” said Mr. Abrams. “I put it in storage for 17 years, and it has been there for 17 years.” […]
Currently, the painting is being displayed at the Dancy-Power Automotive at Lenox Avenue and West 129th in Harlem, chosen in part because it is owned by a friend of Mr. Abrams and also because it is near the Apollo Theater, where the Jackson 5 won an amateur night competition in 1967.
In Michael Jackson Painting, He Wore Red Velvet (City Room/New York Times)