ESSENTIAL READING: AN INTERVIEW WITH LARRY GAGOSIAN
Love him or hate him, Larry Gagosian is easily the single most important force in the modern art world and a fascinating character to the core. His near unshakable media silence almost guarantees he’ll be taking his storied trove of epic tales (including many with his now legendary friend Jean-Michel Basquiat) to the grave unheard. Luckily he sat down with fellow art world heavy Peter Brant late last year for a great Interview Magazine talk that—if you weren’t paying attention—was easily missed, but shouldn’t be overlooked:
PETER BRANT: Jean-Michel came out to live with you in L.A. for a while, didn’t he?
GAGOSIAN: Yeah. We came out to L.A. when we did that first show, and I think he liked it there. He’d never been to L.A. before, and it was a change of scene, different people. So he came out and moved into my house for about a year.
BRANT: Tell me about the flight you took with Jean-Michel back to California.
GAGOSIAN: Oh, jeez. Can I tell you that? [laughs]
BRANT: Didn’t he and some friends light up a spliff in first class?
GAGOSIAN: Jean-Michel was smoking a little bit of everything at that point, and he lit up a joint in the first-class lounge. I remember the stewardess didn’t really know what to do with these guys—I mean, these were serious, urban-looking guys. One of them was Rammellzee, who had on a white leather trench coat and ski goggles. So we were having a good time, and the stewardess came up and said, “You can’t do what you guys are doing in here.” So Jean-Michel goes, “I’m sorry. I thought this was first class?” [both laugh]
BRANT: Jean-Michel was hanging out with Madonna at that point, right?
GAGOSIAN: Well, that’s interesting because everything was going along fine—Jean-Michel was making paintings, I was selling them, and we were having a lot of fun. But then one day Jean-Michel said, “My girlfriend is coming to stay with me.” I was a little concerned-one too many eggs can spoil an omelet, you know? So I said, “Well, what’s she like?” And he said, “Her name is Madonna and she’s going to be huge.” I’ll never forget that he said that. So Madonna came out and stayed for a few months, and we all got along like one big, happy family. There was a guy named John Seed, who was Jean’s assistant, and he was, like, our cook. He was a great cook.
BRANT: You used to drive Jean-Michel around, right?
GAGOSIAN: Used to drive him around . . . But I lost my license or something at one point, and Madonna actually became our driver for a while. Madonna drove us around. [both laugh] But she was no joke. Even then you could see the discipline and focus and ambition. She’d go running every morning. She’d do yoga. She’d be on the phone with her people. You got the sense she was serious. I wouldn’t say that we’re really friends anymore, but whenever I see her, we have this nice history.
Read the full story at Interview
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