Brushing Up on Warhol’s Barbie Portrait

BillyBoy* finally sold it in 2014.

It was a year ago that Andy Warhol’s Barbie, Portrait of BillyBoy* sold in London for a princely sum. If you are, like us, a fan of Warhol, then you will greatly enjoy some new BBC coverage of this topic.

Researcher Hannah Moore used part of her interview with the portrait’s inspiration, BillyBoy*, for a recent episode of the Radio 4 show The Why Factor. And today, she has a separate BBC Magazine feature focused on the “why” of Warhol’s subject:

A 1984 project had seen BillyBoy*’s Barbie collection dressed by the most famous fashion designers of the day, including Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Kenzo. A major exhibition of the dolls followed – installed in a TGV train, it toured France and stopped in all major cities, drawing thousands of visitors.

Then, BillyBoy* designed two Barbie dolls for Mattel – Le Nouveau Theatre De La Mode and Feelin’ Groovy Barbie. He was the first designer to have his name written on her box.

“If you speak to most collectors today who are middle-aged, they’ll all say they started collecting Barbie in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and that comes directly from my influence,” says BillyBoy*.

The 1986 portrait is one of only two with a Barbie theme done by Warhol. Later that same year, he was commissioned to do another version for Mattel with a red background. RIP.