'Equals Pi': Rare Basquiat painting shown in new Tiffany campaign with Beyonce and Jay-Z

The work was previously owned by Italian designers and is now in the Tiffany & Co collection

Unseen for decades, a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat has reappeared – as the backdrop of a new Tiffany & Co campaign with Beyonce and Jay-Z.

The work from 1982 titled Equals Pi bears some of the artist’s signature motifs, including skulls, crowns and text, though its turquoise palette, similar to the recognisable Tiffany robin's-egg blue, is unique for a Basquiat.

The advertising campaign was unveiled on Monday. On Instagram, Beyonce shared an image of herself and husband Jay-Z posing in front of the painting with the caption: “About love."

Acquired for an unknown sum, the Basquiat painting is now part of Tiffany’s collection.

It was previously owned by Italian designers Alberto and Stefania Sabbadini, who purchased it at a Sotheby’s auction in 1996 for nearly $253,000, according to ArtNews. Equals Pi had been seen in the couple’s Milan apartment, along with works by other notable artists.

Though there is no evidence that Basquiat was inspired by Tiffany’s signature colour when he made Equals Pi, the painting stands apart from his other works, which typically feature darker and deeper colours of red, orange, yellow and blue, accompanied by bold black lines.

Born in 1960 to a Haitian father and Brooklynite Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat revealed his artistic talent at a young age. Leaving home and attending an alternative high school at 17, the artist went from tagging streets as a graffiti artist to creating emotive, distinctive paintings that earned him recognition in the New York art scene and beyond.

As part of the year-long Tiffany campaign with the Carters, a nickname for Beyonce and Jay-Z as a couple, a short film that features the singer singing Moon River to her rapper husband will also be released, according to WWD.

Tiffany has also pledged a donation of $2 million towards scholarship and internship programmes for Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the US as part of the agreement with the Carters.

"Beyonce and Jay-Z are the epitome of the modern love story," says Tiffany & Co executive vice president of product and communications, Alexandre Arnault.

"As a brand that has always stood for love, strength and self-expression, we could not think of a more iconic couple that better represents Tiffany’s values. We are honoured to have the Carters as a part of the Tiffany family."

Updated: August 24th 2021, 11:59 AM
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