Alice Cooper apparently just realized that he has had a valuable original Warhol lying around for decades, which he forgot about, because it was the early ’70s and—according to his manager—“It was a rock’n’roll time, none of us thought about anything.” Yes, that tracks.
At the Guardian, Edward Helmore talked to Cooper’s manager, Shep Gordon, about both how the rock star acquired the piece in the first place and promptly lost track of it. The pair met in 1972 at Max’s Kansas City and hit it off as, “Andy was kind of a groupie, and so was Alice. They loved famous people.”
They also had in common the fact that at the time, Cooper’s live show involved a fake electrocution and Warhol was doing his “Little Electric Chair” silkscreens, based on a 1953 photo of the chamber at Sing Sing where the Rosenbergs were executed. Cooper’s then-girlfriend decided he needed one and it was duly acquired for $2,500. But they didn’t know how incredibly valuable Warhol prints would get and it frankly doesn’t seem like they were really in the kind of shape to keep track of it. Gordon told Helmore:
At the time Alice is making two albums a year and touring the rest of the time. It was a rock’n’roll time, none of us thought about anything. He ends up going into an insane asylum for his drinking and then leaves New York for LA.
Alice says he remembers having a conversation with Warhol about the picture. He thinks the conversation was real, but he couldn’t put his hand on a Bible and say that it was.
“Andy Warhol was not ‘Andy Warhol’ back then,” Gordon noted, adding that, “it was all a swirl of drugs and drinking.” It wasn’t until somebody mentioned that a similar print had recently sold for millions and they went hunting for it: “Alice’s mother remembered it going into storage,” Gordon explained. “So we went and found it rolled up in a tube.”
Count on somebody’s mother to remember where you left the missing Warhol in the drugs-and-alcohol-drenched ’70s.