It was every auctioneer’s dream: Sorting through the usual clutter in the attic of an old New England home, Dan Meader came across a trove of objects far more precious and rare than expected. Tucked away among the usual ships’ chests and rush seats was a little hoard of objects by, and gifts from, the great Pop artist Andy Warhol, including what seems to be a unique and unknown late sculpture. “I started shaking — ‘I can’t believe I’m holding this!,’” was how Mr. Meader remembered the moment, when reached by phone earlier this week.
The home, in Amesbury, Mass., had been owned by Mr. Meader’s old friend Harriett Gould, who died a year ago. The Warholiana hidden away in its attic had once belonged to her son Jon Gould, a Hollywood executive who was Warhol’s last boyfriend. He died in 1986 of complications from AIDS. The Warhol trove, and the ships’ chests and rush seats, will go on the block Saturday at 1 p.m. at John McInnis Auctioneers in Amesbury. Mr. Meader is the firm’s director.
The Warhol objects include photographs that he took of Jon Gould and then gave to him, and other gifts including a fine Austrian coat, signed Warhol books, a boxed set of Proust (Warhol was far more literary than people know) and some antique carousel horses very like the ones Warhol collected in the 1950s. Some of these gifts, as Mr. Meader discovered, seem to be mentioned in the artist’s diaries. They reflect the passionate crush that Warhol had on Gould, who at times lived with him. The archives at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh overflow with poignant notes and valentines from the artist to Gould, along with a few from Gould to Warhol.
Warhol, often billed as a hardhearted cynic, was actually, or also, a true romantic who almost never found the love he craved.
The sculpture uncovered in the attic is not mentioned in the artist’s diaries or, apparently, anywhere else in the vast Warhol literature. It is very unusual, even by Warholian standards. It seems as though the artist simply took a blank stretched canvas, about 16 by 25 inches, and folded it diagonally until its stretcher broke. He then brushed three big dollops of acrylic paint — pale yellow, baby blue and red — over the splintered remains.