When the late Jean-Michel Basquiat said in 1985 that he makes his art “for myself, but ultimately for the world you know,” I do not think that he could have imagined, that one day his art would exist as the backdrop upon which a billionaire’s child would fling cornflakes. But, as the Guardian reports about the world of super yachts, in which nauseatingly rich people hold millions of dollars of famous artwork hostage in the middle of the ocean, this is exactly what is happening:
From champagne corks flying towards a Picasso to cornflakes splashed on a Basquiat painting, the perils facing billionaires’ floating art collections aren’t those sailors typically fear on the high seas. But the world’s ultra-rich are filling superyachts with so many masterpieces that conservators are teaching captains and crew how to care for art as well as to pamper passengers.
Pandora Mather-Lees, an Oxford-educated art historian and conservator, started giving lessons after a billionaire asked for help to restore a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting damaged not by sea spray, but by breakfast cereal. “His kids had thrown their cornflakes at it over breakfast on his yacht because they thought it was scary,” Mather-Lees said. “And the crew had made the damage worse by wiping them off the painting.”
Before it was defaced by cereal, the Basquiat painting reportedly sold for $110.5 million in 2017.
Mather-Lees, a conservator who gives courses on how to unfuck-up paintings fucked up by billionaires and their bratty ilk, says that some of the yachts host “better collections than some national museums.” A terrifying thought.
To quote my colleague Kelly Faircloth: Sink the damn yachts.