While the rest of the world is being shaken by Covid – half of it in lockdown and almost all of it in an anxious state – it seems hip-hop’s royal couple Beyoncé and Jay Z don’t mind flaunting their riches.
The pair appear in the latest ad campaign by jewellery giant Tiffany & Co, dressed to the nines and looking impossibly rich while staring at an elusive painting by street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (may he rest in peace).
Already the campaign is courting controversy, with critics saying the artwork oughtn’t be some flight of fancy for the rich to ogle at, but something shared with the whole world.
The painting, you see, has been in hiding since Basquiat’s death from a heroin overdose in 1988. Nothing glamorous about that, we’re sure.
On Twitter, Basquiat fans questioned the decision to feature – in fact, debut – the painting in an overtly luxurious campaign. One such art lover tweeted: “They been hiding a Basquiat for decades just to use it for a Tiffany’s ad?” Another commented: “Jay-Z cosplaying as Basquiat is hilarious to me”, yet another adding: “He wanna be Basquiat so bad.”
Indeed, Jay Z may have thought he was going to get away with the Basquiat hair-do – that those in the know would think it cred of him. But in truth he looks like an utter dick, not only trying to emulate the look of the artist but totally going against all that Basquiat stood for.
Basquiat would be rolling in his grave to know Tiffany’s had bought his ‘Equals Pi’ piece so as to flaunt it for the sake of blatant commerce. Oh, and simply because it features a blue hue similar to their packaging.
“Basquiat wasn’t the type of person or artist to approve of his pieces being used in an ad from multiple billionaires (uncontextualized, at that),” scoffed another detractor on Twitter. “His art was all about pain and beauty in low places, so, it comes across as a tone deaf and flippant flex on his legacy.”
Beyoncé and Jay Z actually own a Basquiat painting themselves – having purchased his Mecca work for a cool $A6.2 million.
Meanwhile, Tiffany’s has had a hard month trying to impress jewellery buyers. Just two weeks ago, they were criticised for taking the mickey out of their ‘old, mumsy’ clientele – adopting the slogan “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany” and assuming they were doing right by the cool kids.
Not so. That ad campaign fell flat on its arse, too.
It seems money really can’t buy style. Or at least it can’t buy dignity.