The Manhattan apartment that the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat lived in is up for rent—a monthly fee of $60,000 with a 10-year lease agreement.
Basquiat never owned the apartment. It belonged to the esteemed visual artist and film director Andy Warhol, who allowed the Neo-Expressionist to rent the second-floor space. Located at 57 Great Jones Street next to Bowery in lower Manhattan, around the corner from where CBGB used to be, the loft was where the artist slept, created and unfortunately died.
Many fell in love with Basquiat’s artwork because he blended words, figures, animals, and symbols to address racism, the Black community, and class struggle.
Some of his best artwork include “Untitled,” a painting of a skull that sold for $85 million over the summer. “In Italian” is another favored artwork by Basquiat, which blends symbols and figures dealing with religion, music and history to portray African American culture during that time.
Basquiat’s art journey began when he would draw on the sheets of paper his Haitian-American father, an accountant, would bring home from work. Seeing him dive deeper into his creative side, the self-taught artist’s Puerto Rican mother encouraged him to pursue his artistic dreams.
He met artist Al Diaz in high school, and the two started the famous graffiti duo SAMO (pronounced Same-Oh). In an interview with Dazed, Diaz explained that the idea for SAMO was conceived after the two began a newspaper called the Basement Blues Press and, while working on their Spring 1977 issue, Basquiat created an imaginary yet ideal religion.
Afterward, SAMO left the papers and found itself spray-painted on buildings. Diaz and Basquiat decided to remain anonymous until they sold their story to the Village Voice in 1978 for $100—that’s when the world discovered the two. However, the two parted ways after, according to Diaz, Basquiat went on an ego trip and started calling himself SAMO.
The legendary artist would sign off his artwork with SAMO but changed to singing off using his full name. By 1983, his artwork had gained national and international attention, appearing inside the Larry Gagosian Gallery and the Whitney Museum, among others.
“‘Al, I know I’m going to be a famous artist. Not just any artist, a famous artist,’” Diaz recalled Basquiat saying to him amid an LSD trip. “And then he told me he was going to die young. He certainly did both of those things. He had this all very planned in his head. He was very certain about what he was doing. He was very focused and determined, and deliberate about his whole everything. That was what he was going to do, and that’s what he did.”
Basquiat befriended many in the art community along his artistic journey, like Keith Haring and Warhol. Due to the artist legend residing in the apartment, it became a famous spot. A plague was hung outside the building to inform visitors of its significance.
“Basquiat’s paintings and other work challenged established notions of high and low art, race and class while forging a visionary language that defied characterization,” the plaque read.