Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol (But We’re All Out of Ideas For a Gift)

Artsy Editorial
Aug 6, 2013 2:24PM

“I’m the type who’d like to sit home and watch every party that I’m invited to on a monitor in my bedroom,” Andy Warhol once said, and apparently not even his birthday was exempt. Warhol routinely shied from the spotlight every year on August 6th—but according to his diaries, this didn’t stop his friends from giving the most lavish, extravagant, and often peculiar gifts they could come up with:

1978: “Victor told me he had a secret—that Halston was giving me a surprise birthday party and it included a great gift that I would love ... Lou Reed arrived, he gave me a great present, a one-inch TV ... Tom Sullivan arrived and gave me the shirt off his back and made me wear it ... Stevie brought in a garbage can and it was filled with 2,000 one-dollar bills, and he dumped it on me and it really was the best present. Victor gave me a hardhat.”

1979: “My birthday. When I got to my office I cut the cake right away, so that I wouldn’t have to do it in front of everybody. It tasted awful ... Halston didn’t give me the kind of expensive presents he did last year, I guess he thought it was too hard to go through that and do it every year, so he gave me twenty boxes. One had skates, another had a helmet, another a radio, and then earphones, and then kneepads, and then gloves, and a How to Skate book ... Oh, and Steve gave me a good present. A roll of 5,000 of the new free drink tickets he’d just had printed up for the new year.”

1980: “It was my birthday but I hadn’t slept all night so at 7 a.m. I took a sleeping pill, but it acted more like an up. I really feel like an old-timer this time ... Victor Hugo send orchids with beautiful ribbons ... Rupert gave me 300 ties. Robert Hayes gave me a silver set of Elvis records, every record he ever made ... Halston sent a singing telegram that had three people singing it. They were awful. They’re trying to be in show business and I asked them not to exaggerate it and to sing quietly. Halston sent a big cake in the shape of a shoe...”


Artsy Editorial