The US rock star Alice Cooper has discovered an important early 1960s painting by Andy Warhol worth £8m in a storage unit where it lay undiscovered for over 40 years. “We found it rolled up in a tube,” said Cooper. It sat in storage with stage sets and memorabilia from his ‘Schools Out’ tour in the early 1970s.
The Silkscreen titled “Little Electric Chair’ from the Death and Disaster series is one of Warhol’s most iconic images. Cooper was drawn to the image, as he used a prop electric chair in a mock execution sequence as part of his stage act.
Cooper first met Andy Warhol in New York in the 1960s and by 1970 the celebrity obsessed pair would hang out together at the notorious Max’s Kansas City nightclub. The club was home to a menagerie of ‘Superstar’ drag queens male hustlers and the resident band was The New York Dolls. Cooper’s then girlfriend the model and Interview Magazine cover girl Cindy Lang was the fixer for the art purchase offering Warhol $2500 for the unsigned 1964 canvas.
Unsigned and undocumented work by Warhol is difficult. There was a huge controversy a few years back when the British collector, Joe Simon, presented Red Self-portrait to the authentication panel in New York. The board refused to endorse it, stamping the back denied. One picture in the series, now owned by the London dealer/collector Anthony d’Offay, was actually signed and dated by Warhol. The dedication was in his own handwriting signed to his longtime business partner, the Zurich-based art dealer Bruno Bischofberger (“To Bruno B Andy Warhol 1969”). Since the Renaissance, a signature is the way artists such as Mantegna and Titian acknowledge the authenticity of their work. Warhol did not sign much of the work stored in his studio known as The Factory. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has not authenticated work since 2011.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has not authenticated work since 2011 as a result. The Warhol expert Richard Polsky who has unofficially published an Addendum to the Warhol Catalogue Raisonné. believes the provenance of the silkscreen is correct and has dated it to 1964 or 1965.