Matt Wrbican is an archivist that the Associated Press tells us is working on Andy Warhol’s latest gift to posterity. The pack-rat artist was notorious for accumulating objects but most of us thought the bric-a-brac was disposed of during the famous auction of his townhouse’s contents. Turns out the artist had a surprise for all of us:
A postal box from Paris. Who sent it? A piece of crusty wedding cake. Whose? Another box: $17,000 in cash. Yet another: An autographed picture of a naked Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. These are some of the many items workers have uncovered as they sift through 610 cardboard boxes, filing cabinets and even a shipping container filled with what would be considered junk by most people but has a whole different meaning since it was collected by pop artist Andy Warhol. The archivists, hired with $600,000 from the Andy Warhol Foundation and several other smaller grants, have six years to comb through everything from taxi cab receipts to fan mail, meticulously cataloguing, photographing and, when possible, researching the often bizarre items before entering them into a database.
The boxes are time capsules created by Warhol beginning in 1973 at the suggestion of one of his entourage:
Each “time capsule” was filled, taped shut, dated and sent to a New Jersey storage facility. In the 18 months since the project began, the archivists have opened 177 boxes — each with an average of 400 items, some with as many as 1,200. Today, Wrbican said, just one of the boxes is insured for the amount of money the time capsule collection was appraised at a few years after Warhol’s death. […] And how did Warhol come to possess a naked poster of Jackie O signed, “For Andy, with enduring affection, Jackie Montauk”? As it happens, says Wrbican — who along with other researchers authenticated the signature through handwriting comparisons — Onassis was a frequent visitor to Warhol’s Montauk, N.Y., beachfront estate. So, after her second husband, Aristotle Socrates Onassis, got a paparazzi to take pictures of her skinny-dipping and it landed in the hands of Larry Flint, who turned it into a poster for his porn magazine, Hustler, Jackie O sent a copy — likely as a joke — to Warhol, Wrbican said.
22 Years After His Death Warhol’s Junk Lends Insight (Associated Press)