Photo via Cushman & Wakefield
During the early ’60s, Andy Warhol was working primarily as a commercial artist, having just begun to assert himself as a fine artist and local provocateur. In January 1963, he moved into an Upper East Side studio, his first private space, which was then an affordable fire house, available for only $150 per month. More than half a century later and following years of gentrification, Warhol’s historic site, 159 East 87th Street, is on the market for a steep $9,975,000 and “offers a developer a blank canvass [sic] to create boutique condominiums, a mixed-use rental or a luxury townhouse.”
Six months before the iconic pop artist moved into his UES space, he’d established a polarizing name with his newly debuted Campbell Soup Can paintings. “In 1963, [Warhol] was only just becoming known as a fine artist, so it’s no wonder he didn’t invest in a fancier studio,” said Warhol biographer Blake Gopnik to Artnet News. The building was “a wreck, with leaks in the roof and holes in the floors, but it was better than trying to make serious paintings in the wood-paneled living-room of his Victorian townhouse, as he’d done for the previous couple of years.” Despite the shifty environment, Warhol still managed to create several pieces from his revered Death and Disaster series, as well as portraits of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.
Brillo Box (Soap Pads), 1964 (Photo via MoMA)
Warhol’s lease ended the following May, more than half a year before he moved into his legendary Silver Factory and unveiled his 1964 sculpture exhibition, Brillo Boxes—work philosopher Arthur Danto labeled the end of art. “What Warhol taught was that there is no way of telling the difference [between art and non-art] merely by looking,” Danto said. “The eye, so prized an aesthetic organ when it was felt that the difference between art and non-art was visible, was philosophically of no use whatever when the differences proved instead to be invisible.”
The two-story building, located between Lexington and Third Avenue, is currently being used for art storage and marketed by Cushman & Wakefield as a “boutique development site”—a far cry from its humble Warholian roots and testament to NYC’s ever-evolving real estate landscape.