‘Why Not?’: Dealer Mary Boone on Getting Name-Checked by Vampire Weekend

Indie rock band Vampire Weekend has dropped "Mary Boone," a new song off their forthcoming album.

Portrait of American art dealer Mary Boone as she sits in her Soho gallery, New York, New York, May 21, 1992. Photo: Michel Delsol/Getty Images.

This morning, music lovers and art lovers alike woke up to excellent news. A new track by indie rock darlings Vampire Weekend—set to be included on its upcoming album, Only God Was Above Us—has dropped with a whopper of a title for those who nerd out on both: “Mary Boone.”

The band, which formed at Columbia University in 2006, has gained notoriety and critical acclaim for fusing historical instruments like the harpsichord with elements of Afropop, and witty lyrics that equally revere and satirize high society in New York. Thus, the legendary art dealer—who helped define the high-end during New York’s heady 1980s before eventually serving time in prison for filing false income taxes that cost the U.S. Treasury more than $3 million—is a logical fit into the band’s lyrical universe. 

I gave Boone a ring to see if she’d heard the song, and as of writing, she hadn’t and didn’t seem too curious about it. “My son just told me about it,” she said. “Why did they do that? Does this mean I’m a vampire?” I assured her that would not be the takeaway from her eponymous song, whose lyrics wax poetic about a bygone era in New York, and how “we always wanted money / now the money’s not the same.” 

According to Boone, no members of the band approached her about using her name on the album, but she didn’t seem too bothered. “If you say that it’s nice, then why not?” she remarked collegially.

Vampire Weekend does have a track record for using the names of 1980s pop culture figures as its song titles, such as “Hannah Hunt” and “Diane Young.” The group’s affinity for the era and aesthetics of prepster wealth has landed them in legal entanglements just like Boone: the cover art for its 2010 album, Contra, of a woman in a polo shirt from 1983 saw the band getting sued for $2 million by the model in the photo, Ann Kirsten Kennis. 

This is also not the first time Vampire Weekend has made a reference to the art world in their lyrics. Their song “White Sky” off of Contra includes a line about a skatepark designed by the late Richard Serra. As well, Rostam Batmanglij, a founding member of the band who has since gone his own way, has picked up a bit of an art collecting habit himself. 

You can listen to the band’s new song here, with the added bonus of a bespoke visualizer that takes you on a cab ride through the Holland Tunnel. Enjoy.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.