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NYC Attorney Demands That Nude Photos of Jean-Michel Basquiat Be Taken Down

By Savannah Cox | September 30, 2015 1:40pm
 Jean-Michel Basquiat in St. Moritz, Switzerland, 1983.
Jean-Michel Basquiat in St. Moritz, Switzerland, 1983.
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Getty Images/Lee Jaffe

Nothing is off limits in art — except for Jean-Michel Basquiat's nether regions, apparently.

On Monday, Basquiat Estate attorney James P. Cinque contacted Internet publication Animal New York regarding photos it published in 2014 of the famous artist lying naked on a mattress, Ratter reported.

Cinque requested that the website immediately take down the photos, as "they disparage Mr. Basquiat and are prurient in nature," according to a screenshot of the e-mail on Ratter.

The apparently offensive images come from a 2014 exhibition called "Jean-Michel Basquiat, Reclining Nude," which featured a series of black and white photos that Paige Powell, Basquiat's ex-girlfriend, took of the artist in their Upper West Side apartment in the 1980s.

"The photographs provide an intimate look into our private lives while we were together in the early 1980s," Powell told ArtDaily.

"They are at once vulnerable and trusting images of our love and the daily life of Jean-Michel Basquiat."

Outside of the 2014 exhibition, a number of other publications — including The Huffington Post — ran the photos, but apparently Animal New York's publication was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Bucky Turco, who was the owner of Animal New York before the site was shuttered in July, commented about the request for photo removal:

"There's a reason why lawyers are lawyers and not art critics. The request to remove the photos is absurd. He has no legal standing. Also, anyone who uses the word 'prurient,' should never be taken seriously," he said.

Cinque did not immediately respond to calls for comment.