This week, Sotheby’s auction house in New York will be bringing an iconic Warhol work before the gavel. “Six Self Portraits” is a group of silkscreened images of Andy, identical save for tint, that the artist created in 1986. The auction of the work is generating quite a lot of buzz—not least because, in November, the sale of Warhol’s “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)” was purchased for a cool, record-setting $105 million—and its presence at Sotheby’s serves as a reminder that Warhol was a regular feature in Mr. Valentino’s life.
For evidence of that, look no further than the extraordinary “Andy Warhol Diaries.” Valentino’s name comes up numerous times; a typically choice anecdote of Warhol’s, from November of 1978, recounts Andy’s visit to a Valentino party at Studio 54, which had a Thanksgiving theme. (Halston was there, eating a turkey leg. The waiters were dressed as Pilgrims.) Or this one, from later that same month:
“I was invited to Valentino’s dinner for Marisa Berenson. Walked over to the Mayfair House to Le Cirque. Lee Radziwill and Peter Tufo were there and Andre Oliver and Baryshnikov. The card next to me said “Jessica” and it turned out to be Jessica Lange, who’s now going with Baryshnikov.”
Andy Warhol and Mr. Valentino ran in the same circles, in other words, crossing paths in New York and in Paris, and in the company of everyone from George Plimpton to Bette Midler. Mr. Valentino celebrated his birthday at The Factory in 1978, hosting an epic, circus-themed revel. Warhol attended Valentino fashion shows on occasion. And he asked Mr. Valentino to sit for a portrait, too. As Mr. Giammetti recalled on the Charlie Rose show last year, he received a call from Fred Hughes, Warhol’s manager, asking if Mr. Valentino would like to have a portrait made. Mr. Giammetti—flattered by the offer—said yes, yes, of course. A while later, Mr. Giammetti and Mr. Valentino returned to New York, and went to Warhol’s studio to view the portrait, a series of four silkscreens. Only then did they find out the price—far more than they could afford at the time—not to mention the fact that, as far as Andy was concerned, they had commissioned the work. “We bought two of them,” Mr. Giammetti explained, on “Charlie Rose,” “twenty five years later, and paying of course a fortune, and having only two, because the other two the Detroit museum wanted to keep.”