John Currin's naked portrait of Bea Arthur fetched a cool $2 million on Wednesday in Manhattan.
John Currin's topless portrait of Golden Girls actress Bea Arthur has sold for $2 million at Christie's auction house in Manhattan. The 1991 creation aptly titled 'Bea Arthur Naked' captures the beloved television actress from the waist up and was imagined from a full-clothed photograph of Arthur.
Notes on the auction house's website describe the portrait as "nostalgic and repelling" and clearly somebody agreed on Wednesday evening (May 15, 2013). The piece of work has been the subject of intense controversy in the past, though things took on a strange new turn before the auction when social media editors at the Daily Beast were locked out of their Facebook accounts for posting a photo of the portrait, an action initially considered a violation of terms. In an article titled 'Bea's Arthur Boobs Got Us Booted From Facebook,' social media editor Brian Ries wrote, "For a crime that wasn't a crime. For a so-called offensive image that was an actual piece of art valued at roughly $2 million. Way to go, Facebook people."
Arthur, who died of cancer in 2009 aged 86, won Emmys for her roles in the 1970s and 80s television shows 'Maude' and 'Golden Girls.'
Continue reading: Currin's Naked Painting Of Golden Girls' Bea Arthur Sells For $2 Million
The creation of the topless portrait stirred up a lot of controversy, but now the buyer can just enjoy it as an evocative piece of art.
Bea Arthur, the iconic “Golden Girls” actress was portrayed in a somewhat unusual light in a nude painting of her, which sold for $2 million at an auction Wednesday night. The event was held at the Manhattan branch of auction giant Christies, and the painting, which is a 1991 work by John Currin, depicts a stylized, topless version of Bea in her golden years. The auctioneer described the painting as both “nostalgic and repelling,” despite the fact that it depicts the Golden Girl in what could be called her prime. The portrait is not devoid of any irony though. Currin, who is known for satirical works of women in provocative positions, came under fire when he first painted it.
Critics called it out for being sexist, misogynistic and vulgar. Others argued it was a statement about feminism and age, calling it ironic and entertaining. All of the criticism should probably make Brooklyn-based Currin pretty proud of himself. After all, aren’t divided audiences the mark of a great work of art? And really, the backlash against what is essentially just a nude painting of a middle-aged woman is probably more misogynistic than the artist who painted it could be.
Unfortunately, Arthur herself did not live to see the painting valued at such a high price. The actress passed away in 2009. According to the New York Post’s original report, she did not sit for the painting.
One of Hollywood's most famous casting blunders, letting Lucy star as Mame instead of Angela Lansbury, who had conquered Broadway in the same role, was a mistake of epic proportions, not unlike the decision to deny Julie Andrews the starring role in the movie version of My Fair Lady. The legend is that Lucy wanted it really badly and even put up some of her own money to guarantee her spot. I bet Desi Arnaz could have talked her out of it, but something tells me she never asked his opinion.
Continue reading: Mame Review