September 29, 2011 —
I first came across the poster for Andy Warhol’s film “Woman in Revolt” while doing research for a documentary, “Beautiful Darling,” that I was editing about one of its stars, Candy Darling. The poster is red and black and features Candy with her fist thrown toward the camera. I always thought it was a great poster.
“Beautiful Darling” was the first film that I edited and so as a present to myself after I finished work on it I purchased the poster on eBay. List price, the poster was $700. I got one in very good condition for $350. Not bad, eh?
It came folded, wrapped in two plastic zip lock bags and a priority mail envelope. I carefully unwrapped it and laid it out on my floor. It was striking and large. I was happy with my purchase.
I took it around the corner from my old apartment in Brooklyn to a local frame store to have it framed. The framer told me that an original poster like this should be linen backed so that it is preserved and doesn’t lose its value. He recommended a guy for me to send it to.
“He’s the best, and right here in Brooklyn.”
I thanked him for being so helpful and took the poster home. This was proving to be a little more difficult than I expected.
Real life took over and I never got a chance to send it to the linen backing guy. My lease was up at my apartment and work was busy. The box sat next to my door in its original priority envelope. Every few weeks I would see it and think, “Yeah, I really need to do that.” I packed it up carefully in my move into Manhattan but still didn’t send it.
A month or so went by with the poster by the door of my new apartment before I finally called the guy. We spoke on the phone and he seemed great. I sent it to him. He received it. He wanted the money up front and I paid him. He explained what he was going to do to the poster (acid wash, restore the folds, clean up the corner and, of course, the linen backing) he told me it would take about a month to finish. That was in April.
Cut to: A few weeks ago, I met up with the director of “Beautiful Darling” for drinks. He asked me how the poster had turned out. I had completely forgotten about it.
The next day, I emailed the poster restorer. No response. I called. No response. I left a message. I emailed again. A few days later, his phone was disconnected.
My heart sank. I started to fear the worst. He had stolen the money and the poster. It must be worth more than I thought. I worried. I was leaving these nasty messages for this guy and what if he was dead?
It started to become my obsession. I thought about it constantly and did tons of Internet research. He had moved since I sent it to him. He had a youtube account that he had logged into recently. His son was named Zachary. Weird.
I told a friend the whole story over lunch.
“Where is his office?” my friend asked.
“Brooklyn Navy Yard.”
“It’s right by my place. I’ll go by there tomorrow.”
The next day was Friday. I was heading out of town to a friend’s wedding upstate. I was in the car when my phone buzzed a text: “Got your poster. The guy is crazy. I just called the cops.”
He explained to me what had happened. He had showed up and the guy had been in his office with an associate. My friend had told him that I had been trying to get in touch with him. The linen backer had told my friend to leave. My friend had refused to leave without the poster while trying to keep things calm.
The guy said, “Fine!” and grabbed the poster and shoved my friend out the door saying, “If you ever come back here I’ll kill you.”
I didn’t know what to say. The whole thing had escalated so quickly and without my control.
My friend continued, “The cops didn’t really want to file a report, but they did scare the linen backer into refunding your money. Let me know if he doesn’t.”
The next day the linen backer wrote me back three sad emails about having fallen on hard times. That he didn’t really have the money to refund but that he would scrape it together. He told me that he wished he had returned my emails but that he was very busy. He told me that sometimes he gets headaches. He was trying to make me feel bad. It worked.
Now it seems like maybe he would have gotten around to my poster after all. Maybe it was leaning against his door the same way it was leaning against mine.
Now it’s up to me to get it done again. Hopefully it won’t lean too long.