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Trove of 1980s Madonna pop culture awaits auction

Mary Dowd holds up a drawing of Madonna done by Martin Burgoyne at St. Petersburg’s Myers Fine Art auction house Tuesday. AP /Chris O'Meara

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida: Long before Newsweek called her a “tarted-up floozy,” way before she married and had babies and adopted more, and a lifetime before she opened an Instagram account, Madonna was a young woman in New York trying to make it big. That ambition – and a good bit of innocence – can be seen in a collection of photos, art and drawings that are on the auction block Feb. 9 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The collection is owned by the parents of Martin Burgoyne, an artist, Studio 54 bartender and Madonna’s best friend before she became famous.

Raised in England and living in New York to study art at the Pratt Institute, Madonna’s friend and roommate played a huge role in her early career.

Burgoyne managed her first tour and drew the cover image of Madonna for her 1983 “Burning Up” Extended Play cover. They partied with artists Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and others.

Madonna and Burgoyne also supported each other emotionally and financially during hard times – after she was raped and when Burgoyne contracted AIDS.

After battling the disease for some time, Burgoyne died in 1986 at the age of 23. Madonna wrote a song about him called “In This Life” that was on her 1992 album “Erotica.”

For decades, his parents have kept their son’s memorabilia private. Mary Dowd, the co-owner of Myers Fine Art, said Burgoyne’s parents, now in their 80s, are selling the collection at auction.

“I think they came to a point in their lives where they figured that it was time to do something with the collection,” Dowd said.

“So they phoned us up and asked us if we would come take a look at it, which we did. So we saw the breadth of the collection, it was really pretty incredible.”

There’s an original hand-drawn Andy Warhol portrait of Burgoyne. Then there are the Madonna photos. Some are candid Polaroids of her making goofy faces with Burgoyne. Others are black-and-white shots, intended for an album cover, of Madonna looking poised and fragile.

There are also numerous photos of Burgoyne, a handsome young man in a white shirt and suspenders.

Some of the photos were taken by Burgoyne, Dowd said, while it’s unclear who took the others. She said it was possible that Andy Warhol took some of the Polaroids, because they date to same years that he experimented with Polaroid portraits.

Dowd said one of the more remarkable items in the collection was Burgoyne’s sketchbook, in which he inked photo booth sessions of Madonna and a full-color sketch for her “Burning Up” EP album cover. The image is totally ’80s, all bright block colors. Madonna sports short hair and thick eyebrows.

“If you’re an enthusiast of entertainment back in the early ’80s,” Dowd added, “and that was a heyday and pivotal time I think, this is kind of a real step back in time to that period.”

Dowd isn’t sure for how much each piece will go. The original Warhol portrait of Burgoyne should fetch a good price, she thinks, but she’s secretly hoping Madonna herself will hear about the auction and bid on some items.

“It seems like it’s something she should have for her historical archives,” Dowd said. “It’s a big part of her life, from the beginning.”

 

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Summary

The collection is owned by the parents of Martin Burgoyne, an artist, Studio 54 bartender and Madonna's best friend before she became famous.

Madonna and Burgoyne also supported each other emotionally and financially during hard times – after she was raped and when Burgoyne contracted AIDS.

After battling the disease for some time, Burgoyne died in 1986 at the age of 23 .

There's an original hand-drawn Andy Warhol portrait of Burgoyne.

Some of the photos were taken by Burgoyne, Dowd said, while it's unclear who took the others.

The original Warhol portrait of Burgoyne should fetch a good price, she thinks, but she's secretly hoping Madonna herself will hear about the auction and bid on some items.


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