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S32 Ep8

Basquiat: Rage to Riches

Premiere: 9/14/2018 | 00:03:40 |

One of the most influential American artists of the 20th century, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a rock star of the early ’80s New York art scene.



About the Episode

Photograph by Yutaka Sakano

One of the most influential American artists of the 20th century, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a rock star of the early ’80s New York art scene. He lived fast, died young and created thousands of drawings and paintings. It took less than a decade for Basquiat, an accountant’s son from Brooklyn, to go from anonymous graffiti writer known as SAMO© to an epoch-defining art star. Today, Basquiat is in the top tier of the international art market along with Picasso, de Kooning, and Francis Bacon. 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of Basquiat’s untimely death from a heroin overdose. In death, he has emerged as one of the most important artists of his generation and now exhibits in museums all over the world.

Basquiat: Rage to Riches features exclusive interviews with Basquiat’s two sisters, Lisane and Jeanine, who have never before spoken about their brother and his art for a television documentary. With striking candor, art world colleagues, including dealers Bruno Bischofberger, Larry Gagosian and Mary Boone, and Basquiat’s most intimate friends, lovers and fellow artists draw a portrait of a handsome, charismatic and fragile personality – also divulging the cash, drugs and pernicious racism that he encountered. The main weapon Basquiat used to fight prejudice was his art. A game changer, his painting embodied and reflected breakthroughs in music, poetry and a new type of expressionism in modern art. Directed and produced by David Shulman.


“Hollywood Africans” by Jean-Michel Basquiat. All Jean-Michel Basquiat works © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat used with permission of Artestar, NYC

See more artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat.


Basquiat: Rage to Riches is a BBC Studios Production for PBS and BBC in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC. David Shulman is director and producer. Janet Lee is executive producer for the BBC. Bill Gardner is executive producer for PBS. Mark Bell is commissioning editor for the BBC.

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♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -Jean-Michel was going to make things happen in the creative space by any means necessary.

-He was this kid that had taken New York by storm.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -His work that's just screaming revolutionary intentions.

-I had never seen a black artist with this kind of unbelievable talent and unbelievable charisma.

-You should have this image of me, you know, wild monkey man -- whatever -- whatever the [bleep]... -There was a lot of resentment, there was a lot of envy, and it definitely had a racist edge to it.

-Whether one regards themselves as an artist or a black artist it never stops being complicated.

-$69 million.

-We are going to produce him, we are going to market him.

-I'm selling on this side of the room, it's Yuki's bid, a fair warning.

-We are going to cannibalize him.

-It's selling for $98 million.

Thank you, Yuki, congratulations!

-As his sister, almost 38 years later, I continue to be saddened by the fact that my brother is isn't still here.

I think if you want to know what there is to know about John-Michel, the place to go is to his work.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -Of course there is, yeah, of course there is.

-I dunno.

[ Disco music playing ] -You are on top of the world.

I mean, I like the way, you know, here we're doing -- we're doing some work together and you paint out -- paint me out.

-What have I painted you out? Where?

-Everything I've done you have painted me out.

-Where? Where?

-Just -- where?

[ Music playing in fast-reverse ] ♪♪♪ -What's your earliest, most vivid childhood memory?

-Probably getting hit by a car, I guess.

-How'd that happen? -I was playing on the street.

-How old were you? -I was 7 -- 7 or 8 years old.

-We lived in Brooklyn, we lived in Flatbush, and Jean-Michel was playing outside when he was 7 with a group of friends -- they were playing stick ball.

My mother asked me to go out and get him for dinner, which I did.

He came running across the street, forgot something, and turned around to go back.

As he was running across the street, a car came around the corner.

[ Engine racing, brakes squeal ] ♪♪♪ He was in the hospital for a really, really long time.

One of the gifts that my mother brought to him was the book 'Gray's Anatomy.'

She wanted him to have the opportunity to see his own body, as it related to the way it had to be reconstructed.

His spleen was removed.

♪♪♪ It was a book that was highly influential for him.

-My father played music from the moment that he came home from work until he went to bed, and he played all different genres.

Jazz was a big influence, but he also played classical and Donna Summer... -♪ If I had to ♪ -Our mum took us to museums.

-For the school children of Brooklyn, these visits to the museum are creating an awareness of art and its development through the centuries.

-♪ Just a breath ago would all come true ♪ -Jean-Michel was our older brother.

-♪ If I had you ♪ -He was incredibly mischievous.

-♪ If I had a man like you ♪ -He was incredibly creative, he always drew.

-♪ Man like you, baby ♪ -You don't envision that your brother would be famous, but it is always something that he felt that he would be.

-I also believe that his creative influence just came from inside, I think he just came here in that way.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -The City looked big, and I felt big, 'cause that was part of the landscape, I'm an artist.

When you tell people that, they usually say, 'What's your medium?'

And I usually say, 'Extra-large.'

-Jean-Michel left home because he had something that was burning inside of him, he did whatever he needed to do in order to be a painter, in order to be an artist and in order to express himself, and I think it takes a tremendous amount of balls to do that.

♪♪♪ -New York City from the mid '70s up to the early '80s was a creative paradise.

♪♪♪ -New York was falling apart, going bankrupt; the straight people were all leaving, so all the crazy artists flocked here.

-The time was electric, anything felt possible.

-Very inexpensive rents.

I was able to live for $80 a month.

At that time graffiti was emerging from Bronx and Brooklyn on the trains and walls and all over.

-The thing about graffiti writers, we were trying to spread our names, just as broad and as wild as, um, some soft drink was advertising.

♪♪♪ -Like, almost everyone who was living downtown in the late 1970s, we were intrigued by the remarkable conceptual graffiti of Samo.

-I thought, 'This must be a street philosopher, somebody who's writing multiple choice questions on the wall asking profound questions about values.'

-Samo was everywhere, it was on all of the buildings.

We... I was -- I was thrilled by it.

-There was a lot of conversation downtown, 'Who is Samo?'

People claim to have seen Samo.

-I first met Jean-Michel in the fall of '76.

Because that's when I first went to City-As-School.

Me and Jean-Michel and other students that were interested in writing created a high school newspaper, and Jean-Michel wrote a brilliant essay about a, um, ideal religion that just filled all the needs, and he named it 'Samo.'

Samo was part of the slang back then where you would hear an elderly black guy talking to each other and say, 'Hey, what's up?'

And that the other guy would answer, 'Samo, Samo.'

As -- in other words, the same old -- or the same old thing, whatever, and that's really where we borrowed that from, that's absolutely where we borrowed it from.

Me being the graffiti artist,. I liked that format, and we -- we started to write Samo's using that format.

And then then it became like, Samo, as an alternative to God, so now it was this thing.

-The history of really significant artists who got through education is pretty checkered.

Basquiat dropped out of school so they could get busy and do his thing and learn on the job.

Think there was a very self-conscious dimension to what he did, you know -- he didn't do Samo, his tag line graffiti, he didn't do it just any place, he did it real close to SoHo.

-It was a successful hype -- hype project.

-It is a canal zone and its happening here now.

If you've lost you can find yourself right here, right now in the canal zone.

I-first met Jean-Michel Basquiat April 29, 1979.

It was the night of the canal zone party, thrown by myself, a British artist named Stan Peskett and Fatboy Freddy.

It was called Canal Zone, it was kind of our first SoHo/downtown party.

-We were going to have a party that would introduce aerosol graffiti artists from uptown to the downtown fine art scene.

-♪ Lookin' down on the poor and the needy ♪ -Jean-Michel showed up, he was Samo at the time, he was known as Samo.

-Jean-Michel came out of the shadows, I didn't know who he was, he said, 'I would like to do something as well,' and I said sure, and I put the spray can in his hand, 'There's a wall -- do it.'

It was magic, suddenly everybody -- crowd went crazy.

-All of a sudden someone -- I hear voices, very excited, and I walk over and I see someone spray painting on the wall.

-He did one of his multiple choice Samos.

-It was like, 'Oh, my God, this is Samo!'

-Samo, come on you have seen it on the walls, everyone, especially on the buildings, this gentleman right here is Samo.

-Nobody knew who Samo was.

He was totally enigmatic; it was like a Banksy figure.

♪♪♪ -And I immediately ran over and grabbed his arm and I said, 'I have been looking for you.'

And he looked at me and he liked the most beautiful smile.

He said, 'You have?!' And I said, 'Yes!'

And he said, 'Well, why are you here?'

And I said, 'I live here.'

When we went into my room I had books and music that he knew and loved, and it was, it's like an automatic pass.

I used to take baseball cards and paint them with Wite-Out, paint the faces out -- he really liked what I was doing.

Plus I had a room.

We were teenagers, we clicked, and that was amazing.

And he said, 'I want to make postcards with you.'

We went to photo booths and got our picture taken, and, like, I would do something and then he would come and do it, and we get to a point where we both agreed, 'Okay, that's really good, let's use that.'

We were going out on the street, we did it every day, and we would make, you know, sometimes we'd make, like, $15, and that was a bonanza.

-♪ I used to hurry, hurry ♪ -He would shave his head on the street with a razor, people would be like, 'Oh, my God, what is that?'

-♪ No, I don't believe in luck ♪ -We would come out of Jamie Canvass, after making another bunch of color Xerox's, and we're walking down the street, talking, and Jean-Michel looks in the window of this brand-new restaurant called WPA and sees Andy Warhol and Henry Geldzahler sitting at a table.

-♪ Fancy meeting you here ♪ -Jean-Michel grabs my arm and says, 'Oh, my God, its Andy.'

And I was like, 'Oh, my God.'

He said, 'You stay here, they're fags.'

He goes in, comes back out after 10 minutes, I'm waiting out on the sidewalk, and I said, 'What took so long?'

He said, 'Well, they only had a five and they needed to get change of the five.'

And I said, 'How many did they buy?'

'Two.' So they brought one that said 'Stupid Games Bad Ideas,' and another one that was color Xerox of a pair of sunglasses that we had splattered Wite-Out on and re-Xeroxed.

He loved Andy, and to meet him in person was, I think, a really important moment for him.

[ Punk music playing ] -It was like, 'Oh, my God, you not only met him, but he actually bought something for you, he purchased?

This is amazing.'

Andy was like our hero figure, he redefined what the role of an artist could be.

-Say, 'Cheese.'

-♪ I, yes, I can tell ♪ -He had told me that he sold a postcard to Andy Warhol, and he was really excited, I began to understand that he wanted fame, he really wanted fame.

Probably, you know, in the same week, he goes on the Glenn O'Brien show and as Samo, and he, so now he's become Samo.

I mean, it was us, and now he had become the face for Samo.

-Tonight we are lucky enough to have with us probably the most language-oriented of all graffiti artists in New York, Samo.

And his associate -- -Samo, it's Mr. Samo.

-Samo. -It's my personal secretary.

-Sorry, Mr. Samo, well, you know, you see it written on the walls and you don't know how to pronounce it.

And do you write something different every time, or do you write the, you know -- -I have written the same thing before and just it all depends, you know, like, how inspired I feel.

-At a certain point, you saw graffiti, 'Samo is Dead.'

-So Jean, you know, here he is killing Samo, 'cause he is the only one that ever wrote Samo was dead.

I never wrote Samo is dead.

And as a result it, it damaged our relationship.

That was the point where Jean-Michel began to assert himself as the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

-I never went to an art school, I failed at art courses that I did take at school.

Um... I just looked -- I just looked at a lot of things, and that's what... And that's where I think I learned about art, by looking at it.

♪♪♪ -When we met in the late '70s, one of the things that made us become really good friends is we -- we both spent a lot of time going to museums as young kids.

♪♪♪ And somehow or other, the idea popped up, like, let's start a museum club.

And Wednesday was the day when we would hop in a cab and head up to the Metropolitan Museum.

♪♪♪ [ Hip-hop music playing ] ♪♪♪ Jean-Michel and I would often act like we were art students when we would come here -- we would have our little sketch pads.

acting like we were sketching.

These are all school of Caravaggio by the way.

Young black man in the painting up there, nice.

Caravaggio's just so great -- me and Jean-Michel talked about this -- we, like, we dug him, and, uh, we did some reading about him, and the fact that he, liked, carried a sword was pretty bad boy for that time period, you know, like, you see it in movies people would carry a sword, you would just think it was a regular thing.

But if you carried a sword you were gangster, you -- you had the -- you carried it 'cause you knew you were going to use it, or you were not afraid to use it.

So, some real bad boy business going on.

-♪ Wax the tracks, a terminator ♪ -This guy invented creative lighting; it's just amazing, you know?

The artist growing, light to dark baby, simple, simple stuff, basic stuff.

♪♪♪ This is Autumn Rhythm, so this is a really famous Pollock, and I remember Jean and I looking at it, appreciating it, and also talking about the fact that at this time in the early '50s when these paintings were being made, Jackson Pollock's studio was in the, um, in the Village, and he was going to jazz clubs, and this is something that is not often talked about, the fact that the abstract expressionists were developing at the same time as Bebop music and the improvisational nature that was going on in there.

[ Jazz playing ] Because of the racism at that time a lot of critics and art historians wouldn't really elaborate on the fact that, I mean, you can see the improvisational going on, and, like, I remember Jean-Michel and I talking about that right here in this building.

[ Jazz continues ] I remember talking to Jean about how the insides of the subway cars at that time were just glitzed with tag over tag over tag, there was an unmistakable connection between Pollock and, interestingly, this Franz Kline over my shoulder, like, that broad brush stroke, that calligraphic energy, it was just crazy, undeniable, you know> Ah, man.

[ Jazz playing ] ♪♪♪ This is cool -- like, I remember, um, me and Jean would come here, the museum club, you know, we had to talk about Pablo, but what was really interesting particularly with this piece, you could see the cubist period had unleashed, and that whole period was a breakout moment, when Picasso got hip to what Africans were doing and how they were depicting the imagery.

♪♪♪ It just broke the whole mold of European artists trying to recreate exactly how the image looked, perspective, all that kind of stuff, just smashed the game, broke it wide open, once again, that African influence, you know, you need to recognize, baby, from the motherland.

♪♪♪ Dora Maar, you know, she was a hot one.

Can't you tell [ Laughs ] ♪♪♪ -Back on the street again, the Lower East Side, it looked like a war zone, like we dropped the bomb on ourselves.

And it was okay.

-The star of 'Downtown 81' is Jean-Michel Basquiat.

♪♪♪ And it's not a documentary like a lot of people think, it's a fairytale of what our life was back then.

-Come on, let me see your painting.

-It's a story of a struggling artist who goes around the city to sell his artwork to pay the rent.

-This is really nice. -Thanks.

-You have to realize that he really didn't have money and no job, and we, um, bought him a lot of canvass and we needed that painting for the story.

And so the first paintings he did were really for the purpose of the film.

-Hey, man, that's private property.

-Hey-hey, my man, I'm a tax payer, I can paint anywhere I want to paint.

-They chose to focus on Jean-Michel as the kind of star of this movie, and we all had little scenes and cameo scenes in this little snapshot of the world we lived in.

-He's serious, man. You wanna check him out.

-The pre-gentrified, gritty, grimy, extra-fun New York City.

[ Remixing hip-hop album ] -♪ Fab Five is in the house ♪ ♪ And Jean-Michel is in the house ♪ -I met Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1981, he was working on 'Downtown 81,' the film, so he told me he was living in the production offices for the film, which was a storefront somewhere.

He very quickly moved into my apartment.

It just happened.

I don't feel entirely responsible.

[ Laughs ] He, um... just moved in.

-♪ The two of us together ♪ -We both were bi-ethnic, bi-cultural -- I'm half Palestinian and half English, he was half Puerto Rican and half Haitian.

We both had very authoritarian, proud fathers that were tough.

-♪ Well, don't you feel it ♪ -He stuttered a little.

His mom had been institutionalized, and that was a very sad point for him, and it made him terribly sad to tell me.

And he would stutter even more when he talked about her.

♪♪♪ -I had come from Canada at the age of 20, to the East Village, to be an artist.

♪♪♪ -Hey, man. -Hey, man.

All right.

-Every artist, whatever you were, you were also in a band, you had to be -- if you weren't in a band you were, like, lame.

♪♪♪ Jean-Michel Basquiat made this decision that we were going to start a band.

And we were just jumping around with names, and we really weren't sure what it was.

And then one day, Jean stops and says, 'I know the name now.


I believe the reason that it was spelled with an 'A' was, named after 'Gray's Anatomy,' which was a book that was very inspiring for Jean-Michel Basquiat, because as a young child he was hit by a car.

-And the music he made with Gray, the collage aesthetic, is there whether he was doing music or he's doing poetry, or whether he is doing painting.

♪♪♪ -Jean-Michel was painting or drawing constantly.

♪♪♪ There was a drive there that I've never really seen before.

At that time there were a lot of burned-out buildings in the East Village.

He couldn't afford art supplies, so he would bring things from the street.

He would bring doors, wooden doors, from these burned-out buildings, and he would paint on that.

♪♪♪ We would get in arguments, I was the one working and supporting both of us, and he wasn't contributing.

He would always answer my concerns with the reassurance that he would be famous very soon, and wealthy, and that he would look after me, and that would end the argument.

I mean, what could I say?

-♪ Rapture ♪ -The first painting that he sold was to Debbie Harry from Blondie for $200.

-♪ Fab Five Freddie told me everybody's fly ♪ ♪ DJ's spinnin', I said my, my ♪ -And that was a lot of money to us at that point, so we went out to dinner in a Chinese restaurant on Second Avenue and -- just an ordinary restaurant, but this was a real treat for us because we were so poor.

It was very special and he was so happy and so proud.

-♪ And then you're in the man from Mars ♪ -And Jean-Michel is in the video, yeah.

I had wanted Grand Master Flash to come and be in the video for the part when she starts rapping, she mentions me, 'Fab Five Freddy told me everybody's fly,' and she says, 'DJ's spinning, Flash is fast,' Flash didn't believe I really knew them at the time, so he never showed up, so Jean-Michel was there, I was like, yo, put Jean-Michel at the turntables.

-♪ Fab Five Freddy told me everybody's fly ♪ ♪ DJ's spinnin', I said, my-my ♪ [ Saxophone playing ] ♪♪♪ -I saw the first works that Basquiat showed.

♪♪♪ It was a show called 'New York/New Wave,' where Diego Cortez was the driving force and the main curator -- that was 1981.

Basquiat was given the main wall.

-How do you envision the future here for these artists?

Do you think that a lot of them are professionals, or, uh... -I don't really worry about the word, I haven't worried about the word 'professionals.'

I mean the important thing to me is building a sociology of elements that depict the scene.

♪♪♪ -I went to P.S.1 because I wanted to see artists of New York.

♪♪♪ The work of Jean-Michel, paintings, they were particularly sophisticated.

♪♪♪ What interested me in his work immediately, they were a new visual language.

♪♪♪ -I was Andy Warhol's dealer in exclusivity after 1965.

♪♪♪ This painting was in the show of New York/New Wave, and one of the biggest painting I think was this, showing, uh, a cityscape of New York, of the two World Trade towers, and on the top I think its an inventive type of writing, it reminds me a little bit, I said, of works by Twombly.

♪♪♪ -♪ No, I don't believe in luck ♪ ♪♪♪ -I didn't ask him to be in my gallery, he asked me to be in my gallery.

And I said, 'But my next group show doesn't have anything to do with your work, why, because its called Public Address,' and he said, 'No, on the contrary, I fit in it.'

He defended his point in a way that was extremely sophisticated for his age.

He was so strong, the works that represented, so I decided that the second part of the gallery was completely for him.

-I walked over to Annina's gallery, a couple of blocks from my loft, and I walked in to the last room in Annina's gallery... ♪♪♪ Literally my hair stood up on my neck, it was -- it just had an electrifying impact on me.

The one that is called The Skull is almost anatomical, but also fierce eyes, the perspective, the color, the intensity, just incredibly powerful.

♪♪♪ And I saw, I think, four or five paintings, ♪♪♪ Annina at that point came out to greet me, and I said, 'Wow, how much are these paintings?

If you'll allow me to I'll buy three of them.'

With the discount probably cost me about $9,000 for the three of them.

She said, 'Would you like to meet the artist?'

I just bought three paintings, I said, 'Absolutely.'

I thought I was going to meet some old French guy when I heard the name.

And then I see this black guy sitting in her office, with hair like, you know, if you have seen the photographs, and literally paint stained jeans, and smoking a big fat joint.

Right off the bat there was a rapport between us.

♪♪♪ -Coming out of minimalism in its grids, this next generation -- Jean-Michel, great example of, blew that all up.

-And he didn't have any place to make a lot of paintings, so he started to paint them in my basement downstairs.

♪♪♪ -He was very productive, and it was like he had a 9 to 5 job that was very interesting -- he would wake up early in the morning and go there and then come home around 5 or 6.

-I had a job at a gallery called Sperone Westwater Fischer.

On my lunch hour, Jean would say, 'I'm painting in this basement, come visit.'

-Jean would talk about Franz Kline or, or even Robert Motherwell, people that I was kind of amazed that he even knew about since he hadn't been to art school.

Jean was in awe of Cy Twombly and would talk about Cy Twombly.

I said, 'Jean, you know Cy Twombly is staying in the apartment at the gallery where I work.'

'I want to meet him, I want to meet him now -- can you take me there?'

I said, 'Yeah, sure I can, I have the keys to the apartment let's go meet him.'

So we walked over to the gallery and, you know, knocked on the apartment door, this was during gallery hours.

Cy Twombly opens his door.

I said, 'Cy, this is Jean-Michel Basquiat, he really wants to meet you, he's a big fan of yours.'

And Jean was beginning to enter the apartment when one of the partners came up and said, 'How did he get here? Get him out now.

Why is he here?'

And I said, 'Well, he wants to meet Cy.'

And, 'No, no, no, no, that's not going to happen.

Now, I want -- Brett, I want you to get him out immediately.

Did he take anything?'

♪♪♪ -The word got out in the art world very quickly that there was a genius working in Annina's basement.

[ Tape recorder clicking, indistinct voice ] -But, Jean-Michel, just hold on, I think I have to ask you, is this collage?

-Slave auction. Slave auction.

In America, with the tobacco trade.

-And this is a complete irony, you put a halo on top.

-He's the martyr, he's like dead you know?

♪♪♪ This is like the boat, you know, this is a boat, the boat that brings the... you know?

And he's like, 'Well, how much do I get for the slave here, how much is -- how much do I get for -- $50 for the slave,' you know?

-And these are all those -- -These are people that are bidding on the slaves, that's another slave.

♪♪♪ -People hear it was a kind of dungeon.

♪♪♪ -There were all these pictures and rumors that she would keep him locked in the basement to make paintings.

-You know, for being in prison, with a skylight two windows, that is kind of nice.

♪♪♪ -The story that you're always being locked in the basement and ordered to paint?

-Uh... [ Stammering ] That's just, uh... It has a nasty edge to it, you know?

I was never locked anywhere.

I mean.. Oh, Christ... Oh, no, it's just, if I was white they would just say, 'Artist in residence,' rather that say all the other stuff.

-I didn't see any chains in Annina's basement when he worked there, that he seemed to be thriving, although he was interrupted a lot of times when, you know, they would bring Mick Jagger down to look and buy paintings from him.

-I told him, look, like, I know what's going on, this is a good spot to work, he didn't have an adequate studio space at that time, but, um, I definitely told him, I think you should raise up out of here.

-I said, 'I will help you to rent an apartment,' which I did in Crosby Street, and I will pay the rent, which I will take out of the sales, which is what I did.

I gave him 50% of whatever I sold.

You know if I sold a painting for $10,000 I gave him $5,000.

♪♪♪ -In the period of 1981 to 1982... ♪♪♪ Jean-Michel was incredibly productive.

♪♪♪ Perhaps 250 paintings... At least 500 drawings.

♪♪♪ He almost always had music on when he was working, it was just very intuitive.

♪♪♪ He would work on several paintings at one time.

It was like a dance.

It was almost like he was channeling something.

♪♪♪ -He did many paintings, one after another, beautiful.

♪♪♪ -In the structure of these paintings there was a direct connection to New Wave music.

Seeming chaos that you hear in the best New Wave music Jean-Michel is able to articulate in the structure of his paintings.

♪♪♪ They reflect a deep understanding of avant-garde writing and poetry, the cut-up technique of William Burrows, to slice up and reconstitute writing into this new structure.

♪♪♪ -The zeitgeist was out there on the street.

-♪ The finesse of the West, the masterpiece of the East ♪ -The hip-hop community was bringing artist flash of the spirit, you know, with all this color and movement and kind of breaking the form.

Jean-Michel was also trying to channel that energy of his generation into his canvasses and into these gallery spaces.

-♪ We're the earl of the world, and the air of flair ♪ -I believe the image of the crown brings a certain amount of royalty and regalness to Jean-Michel.

-♪ Get back 'cause your wax... ♪ -It's a pretty good crown he has got in there, huh?

You know, the crown was a significant part of early graffiti -- you would put a crown over your name if you felt you were worthy.

Jean would get a good kick out of that guy's crown.

-♪ Get back 'cause your wax are tracks a terminator ♪ -Jean-Michel's work lays out so many of these essential innovations in the structure of art, music and writing at the end of the '70s, beginning of the '80s.

-I never know how to, really, describe it, so maybe I don't know; I don't know how to describe my work.

It's like asking somebody, you know -- asking Miles, 'How does your horn sound?'

You know? I don't think he could really tell you, you know?

Why -- why he played, you know... Why he plays this at this point in the music, or, you know, just... it's sort of on automatic, you know, most of the time.

-What this work had was an astonishing directness, but part of the discourse around the work was this unfortunate primitivist interpretation.

♪♪♪ -He was a sophisticated New York City kid, and it was part of the myth of the noble savage of the, you know, the raw talent -- what it allowed certain people to do was then to throw up their hands in wonder and say, here is this miracle artist, we never expected anybody coming from where he comes from to be this good.

The term primitive is purely racist.

♪♪♪ -Annina proceeded to offer Jean-Michel his first solo New York gallery show in February 1982.

♪♪♪ -Everyone was just over the moon when they saw the work in that show at Annina's.

Everything sold out immediately.

It just kind of all took off all at once.

It was just everything that he had dreamed off.

-I'm just happy that I was able to stick it out and then, you know, and then get things I wanted, you know, after... I felt like I was right, you know what I mean?

-All of a sudden we went from total poverty to having so much money that we didn't know what to do with it.

There was money all over the house, hidden, thousands of dollars because he didn't have a bank account.

We would have lavish parties, with caviar, with Cristal champagne, with cocaine.

-When everyone in the art world starts looking at you, with expectations, you have to produce.

Drugs helped him, I think to work harder and longer hours, and simultaneously, it made his mind free.

It might have helped him to have more endurance during the work.

-Collectors were coming to the loft to look at the work before it was even finished, and it was very frustrating because often they would want the painting to match their couch.

-There were these collectors who came in and brought him a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

And he was so insulted that he told them basically, 'Get out, get out now, I'm not selling anything to you,' and as they left -- he was on the second floor, he took this bucket of chicken and went over and dumped it on the heads of these people leaving his studio.

♪♪♪ -And then he would start writing not for sale on the paintings.

He was very happy that he was selling his work, but he was also very put off about the work being a commodity.

He struggled with that dichotomy throughout his whole life.

-I said, 'Annina, if it is at all possible, I would love to do a show of Basquiat's paintings in my gallery in L.A.,' which I'd recently opened in West Hollywood.

So, I bought first class tickets -- I can afford first class, so I'm not going to sit in first class and have the artist sit in the back of the bus.

He had friends that were going to fly out with him.

Standing out in the group was Rammellzee, who had on a white leather trench coat that was tagged all over the place, and he had ski goggles on, and that is how he walked into first class.

We went up the spiral staircase to this lounge, and first thing Basquiat does is pulls out a big fat joint and just lights it up.

The gal that was, you know, there to take our drink order, she was, like, flabbergasted, she -- She says, 'You can't' -- she kind of stammered out, you know, I mean... And he looked up -- this was typical Jean-Michel -- he looked up at her calmly and he says, 'Oh, I'm sorry, I thought this was first class.'

♪♪♪ You know, it was a long time ago, but I'll never forget it.

And, anyway, we got there, we didn't get arrested, got to L.A. in one piece.

♪♪♪ -Jean-Michel arrived, and he walks in a room like a rock star.

You know, with his hair and his outfits.

-It was just packed. The opening was just packed.

It was a great turnout.

The word was out that this was a gifted artist, and also a charismatic artist.

-I'm filming him in the opening, that's his first show in L.A.

♪♪♪ I was going to L.A. City College, which is like the local city college for film.

And so, I was doing that and then working in the gallery.

Because I always had a camera in my hand, he's like, 'You should make a movie about me.'

And I was like, you know, whatever, like, 'Yeah, you are going to be a famous artist one day, why not?'

-One canvass, he called it the L.A. painting -- it was his anticipation of what L.A. was like.

It almost had like Chicano graffiti on it, and, uh, blue sky -- extraordinary painting.

♪♪♪ He was a part of the jet set at that point, after going to Los Angeles with Gagosian and then going all over Europe and starting to get shows in France, in Germany in Tokyo.

At that point he started to say to me, 'Brett, you've got to earn some more money so we can hang together.'

-He was 21 and he was very well on his way to becoming a millionaire from his art.

He would take limousines because taxis wouldn't stop for him.

♪♪♪ -I'd never seen a black artist with this kind of unbelievable talent, and unbelievable charisma.

There was a lot of resentment, there was a lot of envy, and it definitely had a racist edge to it.

I remember there was an artist who I was friendly with, and he had gone for a dinner party at a collector's house, and I said, 'Well, what's their collection like?'

He says, 'They have a really great collection, Larry.'

He said, 'The thing that -- it up is they've got a Basquiat.'

♪♪♪ -♪ Downtown ♪ -I understood that he wanted to show in the Fun Gallery because it was Lower East Side, he feel maybe guilty that some people of his age, some younger people, were not about to make all the money that he could make, or the fame.

-Where did the words come from?

-Real life books, television.

-Yeah? And you just skim 'em and start including -- -No, man. When I'm working, I hear them, you know, and I just throw them down.

-It looked like he didn't want to be as famous as he was going to be.

-I want to do some anatomy stuff.

-Uh, and... -And I bought some books that are about anatomy.

-And then you started imitating?

-Well, not really imitating, because, you know, I use them as a source material.

-So, why do you want to do anatomy stuff?

-Because I felt like it.

♪♪♪ -Those images seen from 'Gray's Anatomy' crop up all throughout his work.

It's kind of his Rosetta Stone, in a way, of imagery.

♪♪♪ And 'Gray's Anatomy' was his texture.

♪♪♪ -In May of '82, my assistant in New York called me up and told me Basquiat left Annina Nosei's gallery.

-Bischofberger's solo show, P.S.1, was begging me to do a show with him, and I was being sort of, you know, like, I was playing it cool, you know,, like, saying, you know, I dunno, I didn't want to do it, and so on and so forth, you know.

-I ask him, 'Why did you leave Annina Nosei?'

And he told me, 'I warned her several times that she should not sell my paintings, which I leave down there, before I signed them.'

-The idea that I sold them before they were finished, it doesn't make any sense -- if he had finished them, he wouldn't have given them to sell.

Whatever I sold had a slide and the number of the inventory -- in order to have that, that meant that, with Jean-Michel, we called the photographer and we had the photograph, because it meant it was finished.

-He burned bridges repeatedly behind him, but it didn't seem to stop his... his forward movement.

You know, so many collectors were coming, and Gagosian was there all the time, and they were taking paintings right out of the studio, and he was selling directly to them, without a gallery.

-He got paid in cash... He got paid in drugs, as well I never did that. Uh, never did that.

This was a different time in the art world.

You know, every time an artist did a drawing, you didn't get a triplicate contract from a lawyer.

-He always had piles of -- of cash in his studio on Crosby Street, as well as cocaine and -- and all sorts of drugs, so that when you went there, you never knew who you encountered.

-I became his exclusive worldwide dealer at the time, with a promise to find a partner in New York that he could show also in his home town every now and then.

I did pay him quite a lot in cash, because he liked cash a lot, and it was not against the law to do that then.

And quite often, me or my assistant gave -- brought him 5 or 10 or sometimes even 20 thousand dollars, don't know exactly how much it was.

-♪ Heroes fall into the ground ♪ -When Warhol founded I was a co-owner of it, 25%. Whenever I think an artist is really very promising and very good, very great, he's glad, he takes my word for it, he is glad to make a project of him.

I can invite them for lunch over there.

♪♪♪ -I saw Jean-Michel Basquiat.

He was brought by Bruno Bischofberger, who was Andy's art dealer in Zurich, and very close to Andy and the factory.

And so Andy took some Polaroids of Jean-Michel, which is the way Andy started his portraits.

-Basquiat asked me, 'Could you do a few pictures as well, of Warhol and me together?'

So, Warhol gave me his camera, was this long camera, and I made a few pictures of Basquiat and Warhol standing together.

-♪ You got a smile so bright ♪ ♪ You know you coulda been a camera ♪ -And then instead of having lunch, Basquiat said he would like to go home to do something, he can't stay for lunch.

-♪ The way you swept me off my feet ♪ -And we, we were hardly getting up from lunch, and the assistant of Basquiat came running up with a five-foot-square painting, which he painted after this Polaroid of the two of them.

-We all gathered around to see, you know, this portrait of Andy, and there was not only a portrait of Andy, but a self-portrait of Jean-Michel, and they were absolutely stunning works.

-We put it on the floor because it was still wet, you know, so it wouldn't run around, and we would all stand around, and everybody liked it so much.

-♪ You know you could have been... ♪ -And Andy was like, 'Oh, God, you're so fast, and these are so great, and I didn't even send the Polaroids out to the lab yet.'

-And Andy was looking at me, halfway smiling, halfway serous, but still he says, 'Oh, I'm so jealous, he's faster than me.'

-'Oh, God, Bruno, he's so great!'

-♪ The way you do the things you do ♪ -We have a painting here, actually, it's called It's here in the gallery.

♪♪♪ -These are his unbelievable instincts as a painter -- he's showing Andy in a way -- his chops, his tie -- and he lets Andy be the dominant presence in the portrait.

A really good portrait, good likeness of both of them, particularly Andy, I must say.

-And that was the beginning of everything between Andy and Jean-Michel.

♪♪♪ -This is a haunt of Andy Warhol's and that whole gang.

I started working at we would come here frequently and there was always a party in here, and everybody knew everybody else.

Jean-Michel had been showing at Annina Nosei earlier in 1982, but he had left, so he was without a gallery.

And I'm not an art dealer, but I'm an art enthusiast, and Jean-Michel's painting was really storytelling and a really fresh way that I had never seen.

♪♪♪ I was planning to do a show at the Uptown place where I was living, in April of 1983, and he said yes right away, he wanted to do this show.

♪♪♪ I never put any pressure on him because I didn't have, you know, the overhead of running a gallery and that responsibility.

♪♪♪ -I asked Basquiat, 'Which gallery would you like best?'

He said, he said, 'Probably Mary Boone,' he said, 'yes, yes, it's Mary.'

-I don't think I have ever been swayed by what a dealer thinks about an artist.

He was this kid that had taken New York by storm.

He came into the gallery -- it was 1982, and he wanted to share with me not because I was hot, but because he felt I showed a serious group of painters that he wanted to be part of.

♪♪♪ I always listened to artists.

And then in the Spring of '84, I was swayed to take Jean-Michel into my gallery because of Brice Marden and Julian Schnabel's respect for Jean-Michel's work.

I think that Jean-Michel was an original, and those were the kind of artists I wanted to show.

♪♪♪ It was somewhere around that time when Julian Schnabel left the gallery to go to Pace.

I was sitting at my desk and I was crying because I was sad that Julian had left, and Jean-Michel came into my little office, which was smaller even than this room, and put his arm around me and said, 'Oh, Mary, don't worry, I'm going to be a much better artist than Julian will ever be.'

♪♪♪ It was an amazing first show.

So many people came.

A whole new group of collectors.

♪♪♪ Most of the work went for $25,000 or less.

That's kind of normal for a young artist in their first show.

-I was aware that Jean-Michel was doing really well as an artist.

It was very important to Jean-Michel that he be regarded as great artist versus a black artist, while he was also incredibly connected to the black experience and to his blackness, because he was a black man.

-I think there is a lot of people that are neglected in art, I don't know if it's because who made the paintings or what, but, um... I know it -- I know that black people are never really portrayed realistically in -- not even -- or, not even portrayed really -- I mean, not even portrayed in modern art enough.

♪♪♪ -That Basquiat did not want to be seen as a black artist is completely understandable -- Louise Bourgeois did not want to be seen as a feminine artist, and there are many artists who are homosexual who do not want to be seen as gay artists, right?

Any artists who gets identified with a social group finds themselves on the spot in ways that limits their freedom and limits the understanding and interest in their work.

He was looking at his career and saying, 'I don't want to be pushed into this particular ghetto.'

He was playing a very subtle game of, on the one hand, again, showing people things about a world they were largely ignorant of, and mostly afraid of; and at the same time doing it in an idiom which was informed by the grand tradition.

♪♪♪ -This work that's just screaming revolutionary intentions, you know, in terms of who it celebrates, who it valorized, who it trophies, whose experience and culture and history it, um, completely embraces as heroic and regal, and gut bucket at the same time.

♪♪♪ -There are really complicated matters that make us say, 'I don't want to be regarded as a black artist,' or, 'I want to be regarded as an American artist.'

But in fact, it is because of a certain kind of tragedy -- Jim Crow laws and lynching and the Civil Rights -- that Basquiat's work has the potency that it does, and that tragedy is no less black and Haitian and Puerto Rican, and Brooklyn.

-He filled his work full of energies and references to the very thing that scared the -- out of a lot of the art world.

They wanted it because it was exciting, but they didn't want it if it came in a package and with a messenger who would make them feel more uncomfortable than they already did.

-Tonight, the furor continues over the death of Michael Stewart, the young Brooklyn man who died 13 days after he was arrested by Transit Police officers.

Artists from the Lower East Side picketed the chief medical... -I knew Michael Stewart, he was part of, you know, the Downtown scene.

We all knew him.

Michael Stewart emulated Jean, Michael Stewart cut his hair like Jean.

-Michael and I were romantic friends.

I was not still with Jean-Michel when that happened, when the Michael Stewart case happened.

-I started dating Jean-Michel, and then one night we went to The Roxy, and a friend of his came up and told him about Michael Stewart being beaten to death.

-Michael Stewart was brought to Bellevue Hospital unconscious on the morning of September 15th.

He had been arrested by Transit Police for painting graffiti in a subway station.

The family charges the police beat up the young man; the D.A. police deny it.

-Not only would he go to the club and hang out for a while and dance, but he wanted to leave right away; we went back to my apartment, he was just drawing skulls all night, he was so incensed about it.

He just said, you know, 'You're white, you would never understand, you can't imagine what -- you can't even -- you can't even talk about this, and it's just so deep.'

-He was terrified that it could have been him.

I was very close to Michael and I know in my heart that Michael was murdered by the police.

-I hate violence, and I don't know why they kill him.

But they are not going to get away with this, that's for sure.

-We are talking a lot more than a close friend of everybody's, you know, he was killed senselessly.

-Madonna, Keith Haring and then several galleries gave money for Michael Stewart's legal defense fund.

And I went to Jean-Michel and asked for money, and he was terrified, um, that if he gave any money that he would somehow be implicated, or that the police would come after him.

He kept saying, 'It could've been me, it could've been me.'

♪♪♪ -No one man against white supremacy is gonna -- end up being the winner.

People like James Brown and Nina Simone... -♪ Say it louder ♪ -...who also had apprehensions about being identified as anti-authoritarian, radical black artists.

You know, there is an anxiety because, you know, at that point, how much of your success is dependent on a white audience?

-In response to Michael's Stewart's death, Jean-Michel made a painting called Defacement.

♪♪♪ -With a painter who was that diaristic, I mean he saw himself there, you know, he saw the potential for his own annihilation at the hands of authority.

♪♪♪ -Just as it was Michael Stewart, it could have been Jean-Michel Basquiat who, um, was affected -- and... it was scary.

It was scary to see that that could happen, it continues to be scary to see that these kind of things happen, and that young black men continue to be killed and treated the way that they are.

And I know that it also deeply affected and impacted Jean-Michel.

-He had this real fear that he wasn't really allowed in because it was a mostly white, affluent world.

♪♪♪ the art market and how it was exploding, and my assignment was to follow Jean-Michel Basquiat as an exemplar of what was happening to the art market in the early 1980s.

-Cathleen McGuigan came to the gallery and approached me about doing a story on Jean-Michel, and I think they loved him, I think they loved the whole story -- that he was so young, and that he was full of all this energy, and yet he also kind of tied into history.

-He was only 24 years old at the time I interviewed him.

♪♪♪ Andy Warhol told him it would be a good idea to do it.

He did also give me access -- you know, he let me watch him paint in a studio.

♪♪♪ -There was only a little glitch that they kept sending the photographer to the studio to take a picture, and Jean-Michel didn't want to put on his shoes.

The editor of the magazine didn't see the irony in that, so he just kept yelling and sending the photograph back, 'Get him to get his shoes on,' so finally he calls me up and yells at me, that I've got to get the artist to put his shoes on.

I said, 'He's a grown up, if he doesn't want to put his shoes on he's not going to put his shoes on.'

♪♪♪ -That was a very peak moment for Jean-Michel Basquiat.

And then, of course, they got this really, really great image, and I think people remember the image almost more than anything.

-It was a breakthrough for Jean-Michel and he knew it, he knew that he had made it, he was so proud of it he went out and bought stacks and stacks of And Andy was actually reading it right up next o his face.

And he was really blown away by it, I think.

You know, he would like to have been on the cover.

[ 'We Are Family' begins ] -Jean-Michel's father decided to have a dinner at his townhouse in Brooklyn, and Jean-Michel invited Andy and myself.

-I think Andy Warhol coming over to the house for dinner is pretty cool, uh, really cool.

♪♪♪ -I was probably about 14 years old and I barely knew who Andy Warhol was.

So, you know, for me, it was just kind of this eccentric friend that he was bringing over to the house.

-♪ We are family ♪ -It was a little dinner with Jean-Michel and Gerard and Nora and Andy and myself -- a really sweet dinner, and it was really fun.

-And the item for dinner was stuffed filet of sole.

-♪ ♪ ♪ I got all my sisters with me ♪ -I thought it would be so great if Basquiat and Warhol would do works together.

Every artist would have dreamt of doing collaborations with the most famous artist on Earth.

So, I asked Basquiat, 'Would you like to do such a thing?'

He said, 'Of course, immediately, what do you think?'

-I mean, this is your big chance.

-For what? -For...nothing.

I mean, nobody sees this thing.

-♪ I hero worship ♪ ♪ He deserves it, I deserve it ♪ -There has never been anything like this, this kind of collaboration of the two artists of giants of different generations.

-I think that Andy Warhol was a great influence on Jean-Michel -- he didn't do drugs, he kind of took Jean-Michel around in the international art world and showed him some of the ropes.

♪♪♪ -Maybe in Andy's attempts to get Basquiat off drugs, he was trying to redeem himself in the eyes of all those, including some of us, who actually felt he had pushed people to the edge.

♪♪♪ -Andy was paternal, but there's jealousy and rivalry going on all the time.

-I mean, I like the way, you know, we're here, we're doing we are doing some work together, and you paint, and paint me out.

-Where did I paint you out? Where?

-In everything I've done you painted me out.

-Where? Where? -Well, just -- where?

♪♪♪ -You didn't give us enough to paint out.

-Oh, okay.

♪♪♪ [ Birdsong ] -Here is the painting called Clear, by a collaboration done between Warhol and Basquiat.

So, Warhol did the logos of all kind of different products, like the General Electric logo here, the Ford automobile logo.

Basquiat convinced Warhol to start hand-painting again.

For 23 years he had only used silkscreen.

And Basquiat, in silkscreen technique, see in these two bananas.

So, he reversed the techniques: Basquiat used silkscreen, and Warhol painted by hand.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -So, this is where the famous exhibition of the collaboration painting is with Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

First took place at my gallery in 1985.

♪♪♪ I haven't been here in 30-odd years.

♪♪♪ Wow.

The poster for the exhibition of Warhol and Basquiat it was one-million-percent my idea.

-I got a call from Paige Powell asking me if I wanted to come to a dinner that Andy was giving at Texarkana, and I showed up a little late, and one empty seat was right next to Jean-Michel.

And I said, the second I sat down he said, 'Oh, I've been a fan of your work for five years, that portrait you made of Klaus Nomi, I loved your work from then, you know from the portrait you made of Klaus Nomi.'

And I realized, wow, that's five years ago, that's incredible -- he really -- he's, like, he really is for real.

So this is the camera I used for the sitting.

And I've had it since my 21st birthday.

He explained that they had this idea to make this poster and then he said, um, you know, 'Would you be interested in -- in making the picture for it?'

And I said, um, 'Sure.'

And in my mind I thought, 'Well this is never going to happen.'

I placed them right about here.

Jean turned to Andy, who was sitting at the head of the table, and he yelled across to Andy, and said, 'Michael is going to make that picture for the poster.'

And Andy said, 'Oh, wow, well, we already asked Robert Mapplethorpe to do that.'

And Jean said, 'No, Michael is going to do it.'

And he said, 'Well, great, I love Michael's work, I love Michael's portraits.'

Andy just seemed to be almost like a mannequin.

I noticed that Jean was very comfortable moving Andy around physically and telling him what to do, and this was interesting for me to see that he was comfortable with Andy in a way that I hadn't witnessed anybody be with him, which was kind of nice.

♪♪♪ -There was a dividing wall here, and you could go around -- one painting hanging here as you entered, and the famous photograph of the two of them together was standing -- Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel next to each other, back to back, right here, and then you would come into the larger room where the larger paintings were, and this is the huge painting with big piece of steak that Warhol had painted, and Jean-Michel turned the steaks into mountains with skiers sloping down the mountains with a crocodile or two at the bottom.

And this is where the two of them sat down, and the television, the documentary, was made from England.

Then the other big painting being here was the famous painting of the large dentures and the head.

Boy, it was a great, great show, it was one of the greatest shows, I think, of the last 100 years.

Andy Warhol was the great master of the '60s, '70s and '80s, and befriended Jean-Michel, and now the world was coming to see this collaboration painting.

The paintings were far too radical then, they are still radical now, the world wasn't ready for it then, and the response was not that great.

♪♪♪ -Jean had called me to come and and have brunch with him; it was the weekend after the opening of the exhibition at Tony Shafrazi's.

That day he had and he was excited to read the review, and then after he finished reading the review, he kind of -- his mood collapsed, he just became really upset, it had definitely painted this picture of him being portrayed as Andy's mascot and being really used by Andy.

-Jean-Michel felt violated that he was called Andy's mascot.

And, um, because he was already established, and I think he felt he would be going backwards.

-He really, really took it very hard, and he expressed that he would never talk to Andy again, that was it, he was done with Andy.

♪♪♪ -I think Jean became very paranoid and suspicious of even Andy and, and felt that, you know, Andy had this reputation of being a vampire and feeding off of younger artists, and needing new blood to infuse his own career.

-About a month later I was photographing Andy for Georgio Armani, and then the conversation shifted into, um, Andy asking me about Jean-Michel, and he was really concerned about him and wanting to know if he was okay.

He was very concerned that he was possibly going to be self-destructive with the way he felt about this review.

He said, 'I've been trying to reach him and I can't reach him, is there a way -- could you tell him that I'd like to talk to him about it.'

And I said, okay, I'll try.

-Andy kept saying, um -- like, we'd go out to dinner and he would say, 'Oh, do you think we should call Jean-Michel,' and I said, 'Well, Andy, you know, you've tried before and he does not want to go, I mean, um,' and I just said to him, 'Andy, he deserted you. He deserted you.'

-Jean started to doubt himself, and started to feel like there was a turn in the critical response to his work.

-You know, I sort of -- I'd like to try to be -- to remain a literal reclu-- a little reclusive, and not be just -- and be out there, you know, just to -- to be brought up in the -- be brought down, you know, like they do to most of them.

I can't think of one big celebrity or a person that they haven't done that to.

-He was somebody who who understood the value of his own work and always knew it, and never, never really, kind of, doubted that, um, until he was, I think, weakened by some of the drugs that he took in the later part of his life.

♪♪♪ -The night that Andy died, he came into Indochine.

I was a waitress at that point, and he stands in the middle of the dining room sobbing.

He was inconsolable.

He said, 'I'll never -- get over this.'

Crying hysterically, he was like, 'You've got to come with me.'

And I was like, 'I can't, I'm working, I'm going to get fired if I leave in the middle of the shift.'

-The buzzer went, and it was about 2:00 am.

And it was frantic, it was absolutely frantic.

My new boyfriend said, 'Who is it?!' And Jean-Michel in a -- in a frantic voice said, 'It's Jean-Michel, it's Jean-Michel!

Is Suzanne there?! Is Suzanne there?!' And I said, 'Let him in! He's probably in trouble!

He was probably mugged or something.'

We let him in, and we buzzed him in, and he never came up.

He felt guilty because he dropped Andy.

And then he really got into drugs.

In the case of Jean, like, the only person he listened to about drugs was Andy.

♪♪♪ You know, I used to think, well, you know, separation of church and state, you know, you just -- you owe the artist the money, you give it to them, and its not your business how they spend it.

And now, I feel more like, if someone's hurting themselves, if I could have done anything to prevent that from happening, I would have and should have.

♪♪♪ -I rented a house in Hawaii.

You know, everybody -- everybody kind of understood why we were doing this, because it would be a healthier environment for Jean-Michel.

He liked Hawaii.

And I think sometimes Paige would stay with him.

-He really loved spending time there, it was a great way for him to escape the city.

It just had everything there -- they had horses, a horse stable, had different houses on it, and beautiful tropical fruit trees, but also, he didn't do hard drugs over there.

It was really great to see him in that world too, he was so happy, he would never -- I never saw him upset when he was in Hawaii.

It was like a sanctuary for him.

♪♪♪ -It wasn't so much he wanted to go back to New York, or go back to L.A. to, you know, get some harder drugs, I think it was that he couldn't work there.

♪♪♪ -Basquiat's art is full of many death's heads and many skulls.

There are many faces that seem to have, uh, you know, skeletal structures behind them.

Some of that may simply come from having looked at 'Gray's Anatomy,' and lots of skeletons, but some of it is there as intimations of mortality, if not an actual death wish.

♪♪♪ -Like a lot of the great artists, they're very aware of their mortality, and contrast the life force with the inevitability of death.

And that's central to Jean-Michel.

♪♪♪ -The many paintings that you see give you a skull, or the skull and bones, and give you anatomy, um, they are very much about, kind of, the symbolic gutting of black males in American society.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -Jean-Michel invited a all his old friends at the show he had at Baghoomian in 1988, ♪♪♪ He was very affectionate.

The whole show was like a prophecy of his death.

And there is a big painting of the death on a horse.

♪♪♪ -Well the painting, 'Riding With Death,' is undoubtedly an existential cry of some kind.

-It's a hard painting to look at.

What I saw was an incredible amount of pain.

It just was a very clear and very profound view... ♪♪♪ into some of what Jean-Michel was thinking about at that time.

♪♪♪ -There is also another big painting that says, Man Dies, Man Dies, and that embrace not just goodbye for the summer vacation, it was like a goodbye -- already I felt it.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -I got a call from Jean's housekeeper -- I was out in Long Island at the beach and he -- she called and said Jean-Michel is very sick, um, he is sweating, he -- the room is very hot, there is no air conditioning, and he, um... and he has foam coming out of his mouth.

And, uh, I said, 'Well, what do you -- you know, call 911.'

♪♪♪ -Someone called and told me Jean-Michel died, and I said, 'When?', and they told me, and I was like, 'Oh, my God.'

-I wished it had have been me there, um, when he overdosed, because -- I wish I had of been me now, as a doctor, 'cause I would have revived him, um... So, in my mind, I play with time sometimes and I -- I wish... ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Gavel banging ] ♪♪♪ -Whether we're talking about Charlie Parker or Jimmy Hendrix there is a romantic aspect of drugs, in terms of Jean-Michel being linked to the inspiration of his heroes.

♪♪♪ His career goes beyond just a normal career, it becomes mythic.

-I mean he died at twenty-- he was 27 in 1998.

-People are buying into that whole myth in addition buying his work.

-Thank you, Yuki! Congratulations!

-What's interesting about an auction breaking $100 million is that I feel like the rest of the world only understands greatness by these consolidated values that happen through the market, but it confirms something that many of us already knew -- how important he was to the legacy of American art.

♪♪♪ -I wish my brother were here today.

This may have been what needed to happen in order for, um, his voice to be as powerful as it is today.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -'Basquiat: Rage To Riches' is available on DVD.

To order, visit or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.

This program is also available for download on iTunes.

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