Paint It Mick, Andy: A Private Collector's Very First Acquisition

Sometimes in life, a piece of artwork takes you by surprise and before you know it, you can’t live without it. Such is the case for Mark, a private contemporary art collector in Chicago, who is also a friend of The Conservation Center. Mark began collecting art in the early 1980’s while living in New York City. He recently brought his very first acquisition from “way back when” to The Center to be reframed—and the piece Mark brought us has such a heartfelt story behind it we couldn’t resist sharing.

During the course of a lengthy conversation revolving around all things Pop, Mark told us about his first encounter with this prized piece of artwork. 

“I was just out of school, 22 years old and working in New York. One afternoon while hanging out in the Village, an artwork caught my eye as I was strolling past some unknown art gallery. I walked in and said “Oh my God, that’s Mick.” What Mark saw was a lithograph of Mick Jagger—and Mark’s interest, being a die-hard Rolling Stones fan, was immediately piqued.

“I soon noticed that it was not only a portrait of Mick but there were also two signatures at the bottom, one of the Rolling Stone himself. The gallery owner started chatting me up and went into this whole story about how it was done by this famous artist. I paid no attention to what she said and was only thinking how much I needed to own the work—which turned out to be $1200, well beyond my means at the time. Taking pity on me, we agreed that I would send her a $100 check for 12 months, after which time I could come back to collect. I’m proud to say that I never missed a payment, and a year later I owned my Mick Jagger.”

The artist that the gallery owner spoke of was none other than the iconic Andy Warhol, a fact his then girlfriend informed him of. “Let’s just say she flipped and screamed: ‘Do you know who made this?’” Mark said. “Being clueless, I mumbled something like, ‘not really.’ Turned out it was created by Andy Warhol and signed by him too. Nancy later married me. Ha!”

Mark furthers the story: “This purchase eventually propelled Nancy and I to learn more about contemporary art and the Pop Art culture that began in the 1950’s.” Since their first foray into the fine art world, Mark and Nancy have gained a passion for contemporary art, building their collection to include works by Keith Haring, Richard Lindner, Ed Pashke, and Larry Rivers. They also acquired another Warhol portrait, this one of Beethoven.

Upon moving into a loft in Chicago’s West Loop, Mark and Nancy became concerned about UV exposure to their art collection. Preservation materials and techniques such as UV filter glazing, frame conservation, and updating acidic materials with new archival housing were performed with meticulous care by experts at The Conservation Center—all to better enhance the works of art displayed in their home.

For the prized Mick Jagger piece in particular, The Center recommended True Vue Museum Glass, a conservation grade glass that protects against harmful UV rays. Over time, exposure to indoor and outdoor UV light rays can contribute to fading and deterioration of art, photographs, and other important personal keepsakes. Museum Glass blocks up to 99% of UV light rays to prevent fading. The Center also offers True Vue Conservation Clear and Optium Museum Acrylic as options for our clients.

Mark’s comments on the work done by The Conservation Center: “Our art collection looks enlightened and we are extremely satisfied with the results. The reduced glare makes all the difference and the high quality work performed gives us comfort that our art will last for years without deterioration.”

But it was that first piece that started it all: “Although there is an affinity to every piece in our collection, the Mick Jagger by Andy Warhol is my most precious. I have an emotional attachment that reaches to my childhood and life-long love of the Rolling Stones while also launching me into the fascinating and illuminating world of art collecting.” 

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Mark.