Famed jewelers Tiffany & Co. teased a new ad campaign featuring JAY-Z and his wife Beyoncé called “About Love” on Sunday (August 22). But neither the “priceless” diamonds they were advertising nor the famous couple themselves were the star attraction. Instead, it was the rare Jean-Michel Basquiat painting hanging in the background that made the most noise.
Basquiat, who died of a drug overdose in 1988 at the age of 27, left behind a treasure trove of work, but this particular painting had never been viewed by the public. According to WWD, Tiffany recently acquired the robin egg blue artwork, which had been in the possession of a private collector since the early ’80s.
The Carters for Tiffany & Co. #AboutLove #TiffanyAndCo
© Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York pic.twitter.com/uQqkkJRbhY
— Roc Nation (@RocNation) August 23, 2021
Shot in Los Angeles at the iconic Orum House, the ad shows Beyoncé in a form fitting black dress, mesh evening gloves and an updo hairstyle, an obvious nod to Audrey Hepburn’s character in the 1961 rom-com Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Around her neck sits a massive, $30 million Tiffany yellow diamond necklace, a stone Hepburn had famously worn while promoting the film.
JAY-Z, on the other hand, sports a suit with Jean Schlumberger’s legendary Bird on a Rock brooch, repurposed as a set of stylish cufflinks.
But not everybody is happy about the ad. Shortly after the ad teaser dropped, Basquiat became a trending Twitter topic as people wondered how the famously anti-capitalist artist would feel about his work being used to sell jewelry.
“Basquiat wasn’t the type of person or artist to approve of his pieces being used in an ad from multiple billionaires (uncontextualized, at that),” one person wrote on Twitter. “His art was all about pain & beauty in low places, so, it comes across as a tone deaf & flippant flex on his legacy.”
Basquiat wasn't the type of person or artist to approve of his pieces being used in an ad from multiple billionaires (uncontextualized, at that). His art was all about pain & beauty in low places, so, it comes across as a tone deaf & flippant flex on his legacy.
— Temperamental Pu$$y Juice (@Nezylon) August 23, 2021
Another added, “Insane to me that rich people can just buy art from artists who have passed and no one else gets to see it, kinda gross imo like these pieces should be able to be seen by everyone. That’s literally what Basquiat woulda wanted.”
Despite the backlash, Tiffany & Co. is putting a lot of money into the yearlong campaign with the Carters, which includes a short film with Beyoncé singing “Moon River” to Hov. The full ad will be unveiled on September 3 and include a takeover of all the digital billboards in New York’s Times Square.
But for now, reactions aren’t so favorable. Check out some of them below.
Basquiat turning in his grave 💀 pic.twitter.com/qOCis1ni2j
— WAG (@lastsipart) August 23, 2021
Using never-before-seen Basquiat to sell jewels is the most anti-Art thing I’ve ever seen https://t.co/i2c1EJWBqS
— battery taster extreme 🇵🇸 (@spoonspoon_) August 23, 2021
insane to me that rich people can just buy art from artists who have passed and no one else gets to see it, kinda gross imo like these pieces should be able to be seen by everyone, thats literally what basquiat woulda wanted https://t.co/GVb3lRSkAE
— 🌷💫 (@__lukec) August 23, 2021
Jay Z cosplaying as Basquiat is hilarious to me pic.twitter.com/JBRQ3hzUB8
— GARAGE SILLY 🍥 (@yungseafx) August 23, 2021
they been hiding a basquiat for decades just to use it for a Tiffany’s ad? https://t.co/LH0XiXbEu9
— phinneas flynn 💫 (@ScBayScJohnson) August 23, 2021
Jay cosplaying as Basquiat is really getting on my nerves.
— Aht Aht 🙅🏽♀️🚫 (@MsLaFitteTweets) August 23, 2021
Saw someone on here say Beyonce "once again elevated another Black artist" BASQUIAT??? You think BASQUIAT was some underground artist that was elevated through a Tiffany ad?? pic.twitter.com/AM3BV8ESVJ
— Not pregnant just eating good.. (@I_Hate_Ted_Cruz) August 23, 2021
Ngl man, I really want them out of the shot, because that painting looks like one of Basquiat's sickest https://t.co/D9FQj1rz9V
— Youtubian Beta Male (@Demboslice_) August 23, 2021
The fact that they showed off this never-before-seen piece of art from Jean-Michel Basquiat for an ADVERTISEMENT doesn’t sit well with my spirits… pic.twitter.com/MOCpOukf8T
— Professor Wright 🎓 (@Savion) August 23, 2021
i just know basquiat is in his grave WISHING jay-z would leave him alone https://t.co/kI78FWZCwE
— tig o. bittys (@ntoxicant) August 23, 2021
he’s been cosplaying basquiat for like 6 years now pls 😩 https://t.co/UuQvmbRKmf
— Free Bria (@bria_tortillaa) August 23, 2021
When I think of Basquiat, I think of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Said absolutely no one.
— Shemaiah Gonzalez (@shemaiahng) August 23, 2021
let basquiat rest in peace!!!!!!
— ry-uck. (@riacoseph) August 23, 2021
ah yes basquiat, famous champion of consumerism. i’m sure he’d love this https://t.co/cGXhP2zg81
— The Correct Opinion Haver (@notoriouskpg_) August 23, 2021