Trove of 1980s Madonna pop-culture awaits auction
Long before Newsweek called her a “tarted-up floozy,” way before she married and had babies and adopted babies, and a lifetime before she opened an Instagram account, Madonna was a young woman in New York trying to make it big.
That ambition — and a good bit of innocence — can be seen in a collection of photos, art and drawings that are on the auction block February 9 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The collection is owned by the parents of Martin Burgoyne, an artist, Studio 54 bartender and Madonna’s best friend during that time. He managed her first tour and drew the cover image of Madonna for her 1983 Burning Up EP album cover. They partied with artists Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and others.
Madonna and Burgoyne also supported each other emotionally and financially during hard times — after she was raped and when Burgoyne contracted AIDS. Burgoyne died in 1986 after battling that disease. He was 23. Madonna wrote a song about him called In This Life that was on her 1992 album Erotica.
For decades, his parents have kept their son’s memorabilia from that era private — until now.
There’s an original hand-drawn portrait of Burgoyne by Andy Warhol. There’s an original invitation to a fundraiser for Burgoyne by Keith Haring — a party written about in The New York Times in September 1986 as AIDS was devastating a generation of mostly young gay men, including Burgoyne.
And then there are the Madonna photos. Some are candid Polaroids of her making goofy faces with Burgoyne. Others are black and whites, intended for an album cover, of Madonna looking poised and fragile. There are also numerous photos of Burgoyne, a handsome young man in a white shirt and suspenders.
Some of the photos were taken by Burgoyne, said Mary Dowd, the co-owner of Myers Fine Art, while it’s unclear who took others. She said it’s possible that Andy Warhol took some of the Polaroids, because they date to same years that he experimented with Polaroid portraits.
Dowd said one of the more remarkable items in the collection is Burgoyne’s sketchbook, in which he inked photo booth sessions of Madonna, and a full-colour sketch for her Burning Up EP album cover. The image is totally ‘80s, all bright block colours. Madonna sports short hair and thick eyebrows.
“If you’re an enthusiast of entertainment back in the early ’80s — and that was a heyday and pivotal time I think — this is kind of a real step back in time to that period,” Dowd said.
Dowd isn’t sure how much each piece will go for — the original Warhol portrait of Burgoyne should fetch a good price, she thinks — but she’s secretly hoping Madonna herself will hear about the auction and bid on some items.