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Riding With Death

Jean-Michel is now famous and making thousands of dollars but it is painfully apparent that he is unable to handle his success. His drug use is out of control and friends are becoming more and more concerned about his physical and mental health. He is often in a state of paranoia and extremely overly concerned with his appearance. He is sometimes destroying his work for the threat of people stealing it from his apartment. This adds to the paranoia and Jean-Michel frequently complains of feeling alone, betrayed and scared. He nevertheless appears on the cover of The New York Times Magazine for the article "New Art, New Money: The Marketing of American Artist." Basquait is now 24 years old.

In May of 1985 he is commissioned by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager the famous Studio 54 founders to do art installations for a new club, The Palladium. He is to join Francesco Clemente, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf in the project. In September sixteen collaborative paintings by Basquait and Warhol are shown at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery. The show receives unfavorable reviews and causes tension between Andy and Jean-Michel. Their friendship weakens and begins to suffer with Jean-Michel turning his back to Andy.

Untitled 1984 (Collaboration with Andy Warhol)

Once again Basquait's health is of great concern. Deteriation of his body becomes more noticeable. He has developed dark spots on his face possibly caused by the removal of his spleen when he was a child. His body is unable to clear the toxins from the drugs out of his blood. By the end of 1986 Basquait's two year relationship with dealer Mary Boone is destroyed and he is once again without a New York dealer. He is still represented by Bruno Bishofberger who tries to find him another dealer in New York. On February 22, 1987 Basquait receives the news that his friend Andy Warhol has died. Even though their relationship had deteriorated over the past year Jean-Michel is completely devastated. His loss plunges him into a deep depression.
For more than a year and a half Basquiat has no exhibitions. Finally, in 1988 Basquait has a show at Baghoomian's gallery. He travels to Paris for a one-artist show and then returns to New York for another show at Baghoomian's gallery. His work is praised by some art critics which is like a redemption from the negative criticism he had been receiving previously. Vrej Baghoomian becomes Jean-Michel's last dealer.

Basquait begins listening to friends concerning his drug use. Even though he has always been resistant to drug treatment programs, he makes an effort to stop using. He leaves for Hawaii one of the places he would frequently travel to throughout his career. He stays on a ranch in an attempt to clean himself out. At the end of June Basquait returns to New York claiming that he is clean . On Friday August 17, 1988 Jean-Michel dies in his loft from a drug overdose. Like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix two of his idols, he dies at age 27. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

Gravestone, 1987

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