As part of its recently launched “About Love” campaign, fronted by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Tiffany & Co. has doubled down on the advertisement’s centerpiece, Jean-Michael Basquiat’s 1982 painting Equals Pi, creating a holiday-themed, limited-edition around it.
On Wednesday, the luxury jeweler unveiled the 2021 edition of its annual advent calendar—conceived as a four-foot wood cabinet housing 24 boxes in the brand’s signature robin’s-egg blue hue—with the painting’s image reproduced on the cabinet’s face. Inside, each gift-wrapped box is filled with the designer’s wares, including jewelry items from various collections like Tiffany HardWear, Tiffany T1, and others by designer Elsa Peretti. The calendar is available in limited supply and carries a hefty price tag of $150,000.
For nearly 40 years, Equals Pi (1982) remained in private hands and went mostly unseen from public view. Before appearing in the new Tiffany campaign in August, the painting—which features the artist’s recognizable skulls and scrawled text and is set against a similar hue to Tiffany Blue—had been owned by two other jewelry moguls: Italian designers Alberto and Stefania Sabbadini, who purchased it in 1996 at a Sotheby’s London auction for nearly $253,000. The painting now reportedly belongs to Bernard Arnault, the owner of Tiffany’s parent company LVMH and one of the top art collectors in the world.
In a statement, Tiffany said the idea behind the calendar pays homage to the the late artist’s habit for painting on ordinary surfaces (other works have been done on doors in patrons’ homes). “Basquiat painted on everyday objects such as windows, doors and refrigerators, recontextualizing objects using cardboard, plywood and other materials,” a press release reads, adding that the campaign is “a tribute to the artist’s use of unconventional mediums.”
As part of its broader campaign around Basquiat’s painting, Tiffany’s is peddling its decades old ties to the New York art world as it seeks to modernize its image, following its acquisition by LVMH earlier this year. The art world made Basquiat’s art into a luxury brand (it often brings in over seven figures at auction), and it seems Tiffany’s is aiming to take that even further.