This week, Investigation Discovery’s The Will: Family Secrets Revealed features the estate of Andy Warhol, the “prince of pop art,” easily identified by soup can lovers everywhere. Only 58 at the time of his death, he was definitely one of the wealthiest artists of his time, with a brand recognized world-wide for capturing the glamorous details of everyday life. And, with much at stake, after his passing the fight for his estate got ugly.
Warhol was the youngest of three children, born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, PA. At a young age, he was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder, and spent much of his time away from other children, comforting himself with celebrity magazines and DC comics. After graduating with a degree in Pictorial Design from the Carnegie Institute of Technology—known today as Carnegie Mellon University—he dropped the “a” from his last name and became Andy Warhol.
Early in his career, Warhol worked with a variety of clients, including magazines, such as Glamour and Vogue, and department stores, including Bonwit Teller and I. Miller. In 1952, he had his first solo exhibition at the Hugo Gallery, “Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote.” He had his first group show at The Museum of Modern Art in 1956. In the 1960s, into the 1970s, Warhol began his signature of painting mass-produced objects, including Campbell’s soup cans. “I wanted to paint nothing,” Warhol explained. “I was looking for something that was the essence of nothing, and that was it.”
First Brush with Death
In 1968, Warhol dodged death, surviving a near-fatal gunshot wound from aspiring playwright and radical feminist author, Valerie Solanas. This event led him, many believe, to become obsessed with documenting the everyday, dictating his activities, to the letter, on audiotapes. After his death, the thousands of tapes were published as The Warhol Diaries.
In 1987, Warhol checked into New York Hospital for routine gallbladder surgery. On February 22, 1987, Warhol died. Thousands of mourners paid respects to him at a memorial service held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, after the artist was buried in Pittsburgh. According to Investigation Discovery:
In February, 1987, Andy Warhol, the iconoclastic artist and ‘prince of pop art,’ dies from complications after a routine operation. Just 58 years old, he is one of the wealthiest artists of his time. With appraisals of his work ranging from $95 million to almost $600 million, the fight for art gets ugly. His estate lawyer and his charitable foundation duke it out amid allegations of fraud, price-fixing, and shady backroom deals. The dispute culminates in a legal standoff that calls into question Warhol’s value as an artist and his legacy as a cultural icon – and just how much his own “15 minutes of fame” is worth.
Read more about Andy Warhol on The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts website.
The Will: Family Secrets Revealed airs on Investigation Discovery on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. E/P.
Image: Wikimedia Commons