Famed jewelers Tiffany & Co. teased a new ad campaign featuring JAY-Z and his wife Beyoncé called “About Love” on Sunday (August 22). But neither the “priceless” diamonds they were advertising nor the famous couple themselves were the star attraction. Instead, it was the rare Jean-Michel Basquiat painting hanging in the background that made the most noise.
Basquiat, who died of a drug overdose in 1988 at the age of 27, left behind a treasure trove of work, but this particular painting had never been viewed by the public. According to WWD, Tiffany recently acquired the robin egg blue artwork, which had been in the possession of a private collector since the early ’80s.
Shot in Los Angeles at the iconic Orum House, the ad shows Beyoncé in a form fitting black dress, mesh evening gloves and an updo hairstyle, an obvious nod to Audrey Hepburn’s character in the 1961 rom-com Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Around her neck sits a massive, $30 million Tiffany yellow diamond necklace, a stone Hepburn had famously worn while promoting the film.
JAY-Z, on the other hand, sports a suit with Jean Schlumberger’s legendary Bird on a Rock brooch, repurposed as a set of stylish cufflinks.
But not everybody is happy about the ad. Shortly after the ad teaser dropped, Basquiat became a trending Twitter topic as people wondered how the famously anti-capitalist artist would feel about his work being used to sell jewelry.
“Basquiat wasn’t the type of person or artist to approve of his pieces being used in an ad from multiple billionaires (uncontextualized, at that),” one person wrote on Twitter. “His art was all about pain & beauty in low places, so, it comes across as a tone deaf & flippant flex on his legacy.”
Another added, “Insane to me that rich people can just buy art from artists who have passed and no one else gets to see it, kinda gross imo like these pieces should be able to be seen by everyone. That’s literally what Basquiat woulda wanted.”
Despite the backlash, Tiffany & Co. is putting a lot of money into the yearlong campaign with the Carters, which includes a short film with Beyoncé singing “Moon River” to Hov. The full ad will be unveiled on September 3 and include a takeover of all the digital billboards in New York’s Times Square.
But for now, reactions aren’t so favorable. Check out some of them below.