Alice Cooper discovered an Andy Warhol silkscreen print that could be worth millions of dollars “rolled up in a tube” in a storage locker, The Guardian reports. The “Little Electric Chair” print was part of Warhol’s Death and Disaster series and, coincidentally, had been laying around a facility for over 40 years alongside Cooper’s Seventies-era electric chair stage prop.
Cooper and Warhol became friends in the early Seventies after the rocker moved to New York City. Warhol even came to one of Cooper’s concerts where he used the electric chair to fake an execution. As Cooper’s longtime manager Shep Gordon explained, “Andy was kind of a groupie, and so was Alice. They loved famous people. So they started a relationship, and they loved to hang out.”
However, it was Cooper’s girlfriend at the time, model Cindy Lang, who purchased the “Little Electric Chair” print from Warhol. Warhol based his print (dated either 1964 or 1965) on a 1953 press photo of the death chamber at Sing Sing prison where Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed that year for sharing secrets with the Soviet Union.
Lang apparently handed the print off to Gordon, but it quickly got lost amongst Cooper’s vast assortment of gear. “At the time Alice is making two albums a year and touring the rest of the time,” Gordon said. “It was a rock & 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 L.A. 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.”
Gordon only remembered Cooper had the piece four years ago after having dinner with an art dealer. While it was unclear where the print was, Gordon noted that, luckily, Cooper’s mother remembered seeing it go into storage.
— Walker Reader (@walkermag) July 24, 2017
While Cooper’s “Little Electric Chair” is unsigned, Warhol expert Richard Polsky said he is certain the piece is authentic (the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts stopped authenticating work in 2011 after a dispute with a collector). In 1972, Lang paid $2,500 for the piece. In 2015, another “Little Electric Chair” print sold at auction for $11.6 million.
Gordon said that after Cooper learned of the Warhol’s potential value, he declined to hang something so expensive in his house, though apparently the rocker is now reconsidering. “You should have seen Alice’s face when Richard Polsky’s estimate came in,” Gordon said. “His jaw dropped and he looked at me. ‘Are you serious? I own that!'”