Top image: “Andy Warhol on payphone at World’s Fair”, 1964 © Billy Name / Reel Art Press
Before the Silver Factory became a hub for experimentation due to Andy Warhol’s famed occupancy, an old firehouse on the Upper East Side (159, 87th Street), quietly forgotten from history, acted as a transitionary space while Warhol was on the cusp to global recognition. Cushman & Wakefield have recently put the property on the market, and for a staggering $9.9 million.
Some of his most famous pieces were created there: diptychs of Marilyn Monroe (five months prior to the move, Monroe was [arguably and presumably] murdered) and Elizabeth Taylor, and some of his Death and Disaster paintings.
January 1st, 1963 was when Warhol moved in. Although the place was a dump: parts of the roof had holes, so it leaked; there were gaps in the floors. Remember, however, this was prior to having any sort of celebrity status. He couldn’t afford the Silver Factory. Six months preceding the move he had debuted Campbell’s Soup Cans at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. People had only begun hearing about him. During the 50s, Warhol was only knew to the commercial few, who would regularly hire him to illustrate their advertising campaigns – some lithographs were even calligraphed by his own mother, which were recently sold by Sotheby’s in their “Prints & Multiples” lot at the end of March.
“Andy Warhol with giant Baby Ruth bars”, 1966 © Billy Name / Reel Art Press
“Andy Warhol with The Velvet Underground, Nico’s son Ari Delon, Mary Wronov and Gerald Malanga”, 1966 © Billy Name / Reel Art Press
“As a successful commercial illustrator, Andy Warhol had spent the previous 13 years working out of his various homes,” Blake Gopnik said (who is also working on a Warhol biography), speaking to Artnet News. “[…] His lease on [the firehouse] was terminated the following May – leaving a gap of more than half a year before he moves[sic] into the famous Silver Factory.”
Priced at an eye-watering $9,975,000, it’s safe to say that the gaff is out of reach for most. But hey, we can dream.