A small Massachusetts auction house in the mill town of Amesbury, about 50 miles north of Boston, is preparing for the biggest sale in its 37-year history next month after discovering a cache of works by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring in the attic of a local woman.
When Dan Meader, director of John McInnis Auctioneers, was called to the home of the late Harriet Gould to settle her estate, he knew that her deceased son, Paramount Pictures executive Jon Gould, was a muse and former boyfriend of Warhol’s. When Jon died of AIDS in 1986, most of his collection was stowed away, and Meader, who knew the Gould family, did not think any of it was left in his mother’s house.
“We didn’t know if we would find anything, we went in there thinking this would be the typical yankee family home full of antiques,” Meader told artnet News in a phone call. But it soon became clear that this wasn’t going a routine estate sale.
The first item he pulled out of the cluttered attic was one of Warhol’s newspaper headline sculptures (est. $40,000—60,000). “I’m thinking ‘what the heck is that thing?’” Meader recalled, “It looked just like a newspaper, no big deal, it was all crumpled like somebody was wrapping something and just left the piece of paper there,” he said, “But there was something odd about it so I go over to it, pick it up, and realize that it’s signed ‘to Jon from Andy Warhol,’ and dated, so that was the first indication that there were going to be remnants in the house.”
The auctioneers also found several previously unknown treasures that were a personal reflection of the relationship between Jon and Andy. The items include an atypical painting on canvas that was made into a sculpture (est. $500,000-$1 million), private photographs Warhol took of Jon (est. $500-3,000), prints by Kenny Scharf (est. $150—300) and Keith Haring (est. $400-3,000), and two vases and a thermostat painted by Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as miscellaneous items such as clothes, poems, and writings.
But authenticity continues to be a problem with works purported to be by Warhol, who produced a huge quantity of art in his lifetime and no longer has an official authentication board. Meader said that his source of authentication is the large number of documentary evidence and the provenance.
“This relationship is all 100 percent completely known, it is all directly from this family,” he said. “All of these items were taken from Jon Gould’s home and brought back to Amesbury, Massachusetts, by the family, and here they sat in a time capsule.”
The trove will go on sale at John McInnis Auctioneers on December 1.
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