Can you imagine anyone who would put an Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair in storage and then forgot the print for four decades? That’s exactly what legendary American rock star Alice Cooper did.
From left to right: Johnny Depp, Joe Perry and Alice Cooper
Cooper started his music career since the ‘60s but he is still an active singer. In 2015, he formed a band called Hollywood Vampires with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry (the lead guitarist for Aerosmith), to pay tribute to rock stars who died in the ‘70s.
Cooper and Warhol became friends in the ‘60s but that’s not how Cooper got the silkscreen print. Cooper is considered as “The Godfather of Shock Rock” as he combines rock music with elements of theatrical shock value, such as violence, blood and sex. Cooper’s 1971 tour featured a staged execution on electric chair, which marked the climate of the live show.
Cindy Lang on the cover of Interview magazine
The show gave Cindy Lang (Cooper’s then-girlfriend) the idea to purchase a red version of Little Electric Chair silkscreen print by Andy Warhol as a birthday gift to Cooper. She paid US$2,500 for the print. Lang was a model at the time and even appeared a cover of Warhol's magazine, Interview.
Little Electric Chair silkscreen print owned by Cooper
After Cooper had got the gift, he rolled up the painting in a tube and placed it in his storage in Los Angeles. Since then, he forgot the Warhol’s painting for forty years. It only occurred to him a few years ago while he was dining with an art dealer who mentioned how much Warhol’s painting had fetched in an auction. He then found the 56 x 71cm artwork in his storage but it was not signed.
Andy Warhol on the left and Alice Cooper on the right
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts stopped authenticating work so the job was taken over by Richard Polsky, a Warhol expert. Polsky was sure that the painting was created by Warhol, in 1964-65. He believed US$2500 was a reasonable price back then. Polsky said, “He (Andy Warhol) had plenty of electric chairs. They were not an easy sell.”
Andy Warhol painted different versions of Electric Chair in multiple colours. In November 2015, Warhol’s Little Electric Chair in ethereal blue, which estimated at US$6m to 9m, was sold at Christie’s New York for US$11.58m with buyer’s premium.
Cooper decided to hang the Little Electric Chair in his home and had no plan to sell the artwork for now.