The New York Times‘s Randy Kennedy has a sad, fascinating and upsetting story about the Warhol Factory photographer Billy Name and the bizarre circumstances of his 3,000 image archive that was in the care of his photography agent until the agent disappeared to points West. Now, according to the Times, no one seems to know where the negatives lie or under whose control:
For seven years, beginning in late 1963, when Warhol gave him a 35-millimeter Honeywell Pentax camera, Mr. Name was the resident photographer of the Factory, capturing the perpetual swirl of superstars, celebrities and hangers-on. […] The pictures provide rare documentation of nearly every aspect of Warhol’s world at the so-called Silver Factory on East 47th Street in Manhattan and at the studio’s later incarnation near Union Square.
But sometime in the last two years, Mr. Name’s archive of negatives went missing. Mr. Name left it in the care of a photography agent, Kevin Kushel […] The disappearance of the negatives has alarmed not just Mr. Name and his circle of friends and supporters but also scholars, who describe the images as an important historical record of a pivotal time in art history. […]
Photographic negatives, even historically important ones like Mr. Name’s, generally do not have value in the art market the way prints do. And because Mr. Name owns the copyright to the images, giving him control over their publication or reproduction, he and others […] said they were bewildered by the thought that someone might have them and be trying to sell them.
In Search of an Archive of Warhol’s Era (New York Times)