Art of Animation

The Artist, the Madonna, and the Last Known Portrait of Jeffrey Epstein

The Artist, the Madonna, and the Last Known Portrait of Jeffrey Epstein
Written by Noah Roy

In the late 1980s, Cyrano became a star of the culture war after creating his most famous work, a picture called “Piss Christ”. Paul Serrano’s submerged cross image sparked protest from conservatives, and eventually Republican Senator Jesse Helms led an effort to ban the National Endowment for the Arts from supporting works that could be considered “obscene.” Serrano said that in recent years he has been interested in things with a tainted history. In his exhibition 2019 The Game: All Things Trump, he collected Donald Trump Memorabilia, including items from the former president’s work: casinos, hotels, Trump University. Presented for the year 2020 Disreputable Focus on and photograph the racist merchandise he purchased.

Cyrano said, “I always say my work is very simple, and I usually find the title that fits it best, whether it’s ‘Piss Christ’, ‘The Morgue’ or ‘The Klan.'” The project is his first film titled insurgency. Cyrano worked with London art production organization A/Politics to incorporate historical footage and scenes from the January 6 riots into a diverse account of the day. (Cyrano premiered the film in Washington, D.C., at the arts organization CulturalDC’s theater, but said he’s currently looking at ways to bring it to a larger audience.)

In conversation, Cyrano spoke at extended intervals, occasionally asking and answering his questions. Why did Epstein finally abandon Madonna? “I think God said to Jeffrey Epstein, Listen, you’ve had Madonna long enough, it’s time for you to give it to him.”

The details of the deal are more concrete, if somewhat confusing. After Cyrano’s purchase failed in 1995, he said, he and Epstein began meeting intermittently in the boardroom of Epstein’s Upper East Side home to discuss the statue and other technical matters. (He also recited a list of places he hadn’t visited: any of Epstein’s homes outside of Manhattan, parties, dinners, islands, or planes.) At first, Epstein asked if Serrano needed help with his work or any care. “As much as Madonna asked, Jeffrey didn’t want to give her up,” said Serrano. “It was like, if I didn’t want it that bad, he wouldn’t care about the statue.”

Jeffrey Epstein, 2019; 50 x 60 inches; Archival pigment print, museum glass, wood frame.Image courtesy of Andres Serrano and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels.

Epstein’s network across Manhattan society has frequently relied on his stated interests in creative and intellectual pursuits, particularly when it comes to the arts and sciences. He served as a board member at the New York Academy of Arts from 1987 to 1994. Maria Farmer . said times In 2019, she met Epstein at a gallery show for her high school graduation. Epstein later sexually assaulted Farmer and her younger sister, that I , who was 16 years old at the time. A federal jury recently convicted his longtime companion Jesslyn Maxwell on five of the six charges she faced with facilitating Epstein’s abuse, after a trial in which Annie testified. He told Pivart that in 2019, shortly after Epstein’s death Mother Jones Epstein was his “best friend in decades” but ended their friendship after Maria told him of the assaults. However, Pivart defended Epstein at various points, claiming that Epstein’s victims were “totally complicit”.

When Epstein infiltrated such artistic circles, he used his collection as a way to bolster his reputation. (as New York times Lawyers for his estate recently noted in court filings that the property pays about $15,000 a month to store it in a temperature-controlled warehouse in Long Island City.) Serrano said Epstein hit him as condescending, asking petty questions and ignoring answers: “He wasn’t a good collector. He had Bad work “. But Epstein seemed to enjoy introducing Cyrano and any of the other notable characters they had on hand. The account echoes experiences recounted by scientists who have known Epstein in recent years. “You are talking about a sociopath who was only interested in developing himself financially, and every component of his existence was in the destruction of others,” Stephen Hoffenberg, Epstein’s former business partner who was sentenced in 1997 to 20 years in prison for running a $460 million Ponzi scheme said Vanity Fair in December. “His only concern was how to use others, their wealth, and their access, to advance himself.”

Cyrano kept pressuring Epstein. He was raised Catholic in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the 1950s and kept a keen interest in his faith. “They should be together,” Cyrano said of Madonna and St. John. “I won’t rest until I have both.” He said the news of Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls that first surfaced in the mid-2000s shocked him, but that later, as he and Epstein continued to meet, “as far as I know, he managed to sort out the problem.” In 2013, Serrano traveled to Cuba, where his mother grew up, to shoot. Epstein asked if he knew of a publisher who might be interested in the work, and said Epstein hosted him for the meet Lion Black The private equity billionaire who acquired art book publisher Phaidon Press the previous year. Nothing came of it. (Black resigned as CEO and chairman of Apollo Global Management last year after an investigation by the company found that Black paid Epstein $158 million for what he claimed was financial advice between 2012 and 2017. In September, Vanity Fair She stated that a woman identified in court documents as “Jane Doe” accused Black of assaulting her at the Epstein home in 2002. Black vehemently denied the allegations. “This claim is a fiction and has no basis in fact or law,” a Black spokesperson said in a statement at the time. Jane Doe’s allegations have been filed for judge’s approval for her possible inclusion as part of a defamation lawsuit brought by a former model Guzel Ganieva After Black publicly denied her allegations that he harassed and abused her. Black also vehemently denied the allegations in the Geneva lawsuit.)


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Noah Roy

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