Johnny Depp is auctioning off his collection of nine Basquiat paintings


If you’ve been reading multiple media outlets’ coverage of the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard saga, you might feel like Hollywood is split 50/50. There’s been a lot of effort to create a sense of false equivalency around Heard and Depp, with people continually saying “Yeah he probably abused her but let’s be fair, she was no saint.” Because Amber isn’t the perfect victim, get it? While the false equivalency arguments might be this week’s media strategy, I do think there are big forces in Hollywood reconsidering Depp. In fact, he might be persona non grata to a lot of producers and studios. Entertainment Weekly has a piece in their print issue about how Depp has become (or is becoming) radioactive – go here for a taste from EW. There are also rumors that Disney is panicking. But guess who isn’t panicking? Brett Ratner, who is hellbent on producing a film where Depp plays a character loosely based on Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Brett Ratner is going full steam ahead with his new project, “The Libertine,” starring Johnny Depp as a Dominique Strauss-Kahn-like politician accused of sexual assault — despite all the controversy surrounding the star. Ratner announced his plans for the film at the Cannes Film Festival on May 11. “The Libertine” will star Depp as “a powerful French politician who endures house arrest in a luxury NYC apartment while awaiting trial for sexual assault against a hotel maid,” Deadline reported. The film’s “loosely based” on the 2011 DSK sex-abuse scandal. Criminal charges were dropped against DSK, who settled a civil suit with the maid for an undisclosed amount.

Ratner added, “The whole movie takes place in one location, and I’ve never done that before. It’s one of the best scripts I’ve ever read. People are surprised, because I’ve always been a commercial filmmaker, and this is a much smaller movie.”

But an insider told Page Six of the project, “Everybody agreed it would be impossible to still use Depp in light of the [abuse allegations].” Casting Depp “would create some controversy; they decided it was too hot to go near. You can’t do it. Brett would be devastated as this is a dream project.” But a rep for Ratner said of dumping Depp, “It’s not true,” adding the film is in “active development” with the actor attached.

The film’s produced by Lloyd Braun and Andrew Mittman. Deadline reported at Cannes that Warner Bros. was “involved,” but we hear the project isn’t being developed at the studio.

[From Page Six]

I’ve been doing this too long, because my first thought was “Johnny Depp isn’t capable of pulling off an authentic Frenchman.” As for the film, it sounds awful. It sounds like a terrible premise, and Depp’s people should tell him not to do it. But! Maybe he “needs” to do it? I get the feeling that Depp might be worried about money all of a sudden? But how can that be, he has hundreds of millions of dollars, doesn’t he? Well, he’s selling off his Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings. They could easily go for tens of millions of dollars at auction.

Johnny Depp is auctioning off millions of dollars worth of paintings ahead of his potentially pricey divorce with Amber Heard. The Alice Through the Looking Glass star is set to unload his collection of paintings by famed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, according to a press release by Christie’s auction house. He will sell nine paintings in total, which he collected over the past 25 years. Most of the pieces were completed by Basquiat in 1981.

‘Nothing can replace the warmth and immediacy of Basquiat’s poetry, or the absolute questions and truths that he delivered,” Depp said, according to Christie’s. He added, “The beautiful and disturbing music of his paintings, the cacophony of his silence that attacks our senses, will live far beyond our breath.”

[From People]

Basquiat’s works are highly collectible and highly sought-after by major collectors. It’s a remarkable thing for NINE Basquiats to come up for auction all at once, and I bet Depp will be making so much money. It’s also an interesting move for someone going through a divorce, right?



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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87 Responses to “Johnny Depp is auctioning off his collection of nine Basquiat paintings”

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  1. Snazzy says:

    It really does look like he’s freeing up assets to pay her off, doesn’t it?

    • Mia4s says:

      It’s the inevitable outcome. He pays her off, she signs an NDA, we never hear of this again. It’s her perrogative of course but sadly he will never face any real consequences for what happened.

      He has insane money, but his quote is going to have to drop (outside Pirates). Too many flops. Plus his settlement with Vanessa would have been (rightly) substantial. Get ready for Pirates 6,7,8 everyone! 🙄

      • Wren says:

        That’s if Disney doesn’t decide to cut ties with him. They may very well decide that he isn’t worth it and they don’t want to be associated with him. Nobody is indispensable when the image of the house of mouse is at stake.

    • Tiffany says:

      I think it is to continue the fight in court and the court of public opinion.

      He could have gone with what she first requested but said no and has been slinging mud since. And it does not come cheap.

    • jinni says:

      According to an ET online article, Christies said they have been talking with Depp about this since the beginning of this year, so I doubt this is a reaction to the divorce and is just something he’s been thinking about doing for sometime.

      • Luca76 says:

        Yes but according to sources they’ve also been separating for months.

      • Fanny says:

        Christies doesn’t just pull up a truck to somebody’s house, grab some paintings and throw them up for auction in a matter of days. It’s a long process. For one thing, they need to verify that all of the paintings are legit. So yeah, this was obviously in the works for some time and is not related to the divorce.

      • dippit says:

        Yes @Fanny – I don’t think a direct 2 + 2 = 4 is the case here. My family have had artwork dealings with both Christie’s and Sotherby’s and nothing happens overnight; most particularly with a collection of this worth and value.

    • annaloo. says:

      Or burning the castle down before she gets anything? You know people who would rather destroy things before they see them in the hands of someone else? After his residuals from Pirates, Idoubt he needs the money, so I wonder if this is a “spite” move…maybe Amber liked those paintings…

  2. Size Does Matter says:

    I can’t get over how horrid he looks. Karma. And I hope nobody buys his stupid paintings.

    • Jumana says:

      Some people buy anything from celebs.

      • Bejkie says:

        These pieces coming on the market have nothing to do with Depps celebrity. There are many private collectors, not to mention galleries (around the world, including the state gallery in another country that I work for) that are very interested in buying these artworks.

      • Luca76 says:

        Basquiat is a really important painter they will sell. Poor Basquiat has been dead for years and can’t help that an abusive jerk bought his paintings.

      • Meadow says:

        His paintings are very powerful but also very disturbing, wonderful in a gallery but in a home, living with them every day would be very disquieting. Johnny’s love for them might explain a lot about his Jekyll and Hyde personality.

    • mytake says:

      Right!? It’s like he’s Dorian Gray’s picture.

    • This Face Believes You says:

      My first response was “Holy Crap, is that a costume?” Like I know his band is named after Vampires…. so maybe at least the last photo is due to stage make-up? He literally looks like a bloated animated corpse.

    • eleri says:

      basquiat’s paintings are not stupid in any way

    • C says:

      OMG his teeth

    • Dlo says:

      He looked better in Dark Shadows and he was playing a hundred’s year old vampire

    • Kelly says:

      It’s a risky move for Depp to put the Basquiats on the market now. That group of multiple Basquiats could oversaturate the market, similar to what has happened to the Warhol market. One sold for over $55 million with buyer’s fee last month in New York at Christies, a record for the artist. Another was sold in private sale this winter for $35 million, a loss for the buyer who bought it for $48 million in 2013.

    • Palar says:

      They’re not “his stupid” paintings. They are paintings by an exceptional artist that he currently owns. Show some respect to the artist.

  3. mkyarwood says:

    Heh. Only Brett Ratner would see an opportunity.

  4. Karen says:

    The movie sound like a bad idea in general.

    Let’s have a pity party in a apt room for an entire movie for a man on trial for sexual assault: charges got dropped so I imagine it’s a ‘how could woman be so greedy and ruin my life’ narrative. It’s gross! Now add in an actor of alleged spousal abuse and the gross/disgusting circle is complete.

    How did this project get the green light??

    • Pinky says:

      Actually, the guy was guilty but the maid was an unreliable witness and the new Manhattan DA with his idiots in the SVU messed up big time. There was some restructuring after that, to put it mildly. And then DSK got embroiled in another sex controversy/crime in France–one he could not survive. So, yeah. “Subject matter,” as David Brent would say.


      • Karen says:

        ^ I know the actual case was messed up. But I doubt they’re making a movie about a rapist getting off of his charges. And as the movie is in one location, it will only be the actors/rapists voice (not the maids) being told. So I imagine it’s biased to the rapists narrative: of him beine a “victim” (when in reality it was the furthest thing)

    • Naya says:

      Ikr? Even without Depp attached, this is a stupid idea. Plus Brett Ratner is a known misogynist so we know this film would probably be DSK sympathetic. Anyway, there is no way a studio would make a movie in which the central character is an accused rapist under house arrest unless the rapist is depicted as a victim.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      ” “a powerful French politician who endures house arrest in a luxury NYC apartment while awaiting trial for sexual assault against a hotel maid,”

      Endures. Endures? Endures! Endures #$^&*()_&

      • dippit says:

        Yes, I was negatively struck by that word usage too. Perhaps JD can visit Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy (London) in research for his role.

    • cd3 says:

      Right? A story about a man accused of sexual assault who “ENDURES house arrest in a LUXURY NYC apartment” There are so many things wrong with this statement! Just the use of the word “endures” implies a suffering on his part! The poor victimized man!

  5. Pinky says:

    “Lloyd Braun!!!”

    Anyway, yeah. Liquidate some assets and get this divorce over with, stat! We’re sick of it, and sicka you, Depp!


    • ann says:

      Is he the one holding off the divorce?

    • Squiggisbig says:

      I thought I was the only one old enough to see the Seinfeld reference!

      I’m actually confused as to why he is selling the paintings. I am surprised that he doesn’t have more liquid assets for Amber to get that money. Also if he is actually doing all that for the purpose of getting her to sign a NDA I shudder to think what other secrets she has to share. What could be worse than being a drug addicted abuser?

  6. Chicagogurl says:

    I love Basquiats paintings. He may be selling them through a trust. If he sells them through a trust for his children for example, she couldn’t touch the money in the divorce proceedings.

  7. Frosty says:

    I guess he thinks he needs the money then. Because I wouldn’t advise dumping 9 works by one artist onto the market otherwise. He would be better off auctioning them over time, imo.

    Wonder if he still has his John Wayne Gacy’s?

    • This Face Believes You says:

      Man, I know he’s very artsy and alternative, but a painting by a serial rapist and murderer of children? Really?

      • Frosty says:

        IKR? I didn’t get the appeal of buy Gacy’s prison paintings — his serial killer oeuvre lol. I guess you had to be jacked out of your mind to understand his artistry.

      • SparkleFace says:


  8. Lilacflowers says:

    Why name the film The Libertine when Depp has already done a film named The Libertine?

    • marmaduke45 says:

      My thoughts, exactly.

    • doofus says:

      thank you! I was like, didn’t he already do that movie? they’re doing a remake with the same guy in the lead?…

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Isn’t Libertine just a fancy way of saying “guy who has a lot of sex and not always in situations of adult consent?”

    • amilu says:

      I was just wondering the same thing. I had to do a double-take on the time-stamp of this article when I saw that. I thought maybe I’d ended up in the archives somehow! (I never saw his original Libertine movie, so I don’t know what it’s about.)

    • Carol says:

      Right? why in earth would Depp make a movie like that now anyways? His rep should take him off that project no matter how good the script is.

  9. Talie says:

    Ugh…I would love to own a Basquiat. I can’t believe he has 9!!

    It’s like Madonna with all her rare Frida Kahlos and Lempickas

    • Snappyfish says:

      If these were purchased in 1981 I’m guessing he got them for a song. The Lars dude from Metallica bought one at the time for $500 & sold it later for 15 million. Basquiat practically gave his works away at that time. His work has such lyrical presentation with illogical form & the fact that 9 are being released is an amazing opportunity. Depp will make a fortune from this sale.

      I’m v v interested why he would chose to unload such a quanity. Is he hurting for cash? Christies has hinted (back in February) that “some” would be coming but 9? Quite impressive & curiosily quizzical.

      • Kelly says:

        The seller of the one that sold for $55 million in May originally bought it in 2004 for around $4 million.

        Basquiat wasn’t widely collected by museums during his lifetime and the Whitney is the only New York museum with his paintings in their permanent collection. In general, the art of the 1980s is underrepresented in American public collections. The major artists, Basquiat, Richard Prince, Julian Schnabel, are too expensive for most museums now. MOMA purchased a Schnabel recently and the Art Institute of Chicago got multiple Princes in a donation recently.

    • Ash says:

      Same here. I’d love to own a Basquiat.

  10. SM says:

    Everytime I see a recent photo of him I get furious. How can one not see that he is a mess and still defend hom in this situation.

  11. Paranoid says:

    I’m not defending him against the abuse allegations or anything, but I think he looks better and healthier in the more recent photos with Tim Burton.

  12. WhatThe says:

    Wow, he looks like a zombie in that lead in photo. Creepy!

  13. BendyWindy says:

    He looks like a corpse.

  14. Skins says:

    “The Sexiest Man Alive”

  15. mj says:

    Johnny better be careful or he won’t make the 2016 cut.
    The man looks like a walker from TWD.

  16. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    I have no difficulty believing that H-wood has been quietly grumbling about him for some time. No one would slander him by saying anything aloud, let alone confronting him about his behaviors/performance. I think he is barely treading water as an actor at this point, frankly, as he should be. Rock bottom must be near.

    As for the paintings, if they are so meaningful to him, perhaps he is unloading them en masse simply so that she cannot receive any- just out of spite… I don’t think it is reaching to assume he would do something vindictive like that, regardless of the purpose of the monies received through the sales.

  17. Felice. says:

    So you’re gonna use that photo of him where he looks like the farmer from Men in Black from now on? I approve.

  18. Susie 1of 3 says:

    Wasn’t that storyline already done on Law and Order SVU years ago?

  19. Neal says:

    Johnny looks like he he didn’t avert his eyes when they opened the Ark of the Covenant in RoTLA. His face legit looks like it’s melting off.

  20. eleri says:

    hey y’all anybody else really sad about all of this? johnny depp is a beloved not only artist but character to me. i am so sad that he would fall so far. i truly believed him to be a gentle complex soul and i am so disappointed. violence is such a scourge on the soul. i am so sad for amber and for depp’s children. i am sad when i look at pictures of him. don’t get me wrong, i am also mad but there are moments when it all seems like a bad dream. *survivor* ( i can’t do hashtag on my computer 🙂 )

  21. JustCrimmles says:

    The word ghoulish comes to mind every time I see that picture. Also, he could be the male Elena Hoyos with that face *shudders*

  22. Roller74 says:

    He looks like a creature of the night in that first photo. After all is said and done with Amber, I think Johnny needs to take a little ‘me’ time and enter into rehab.

    • SparkleFace says:

      Yeah it’s getting extremely destructive. If he doesn’t get help, I don’t see how he can live and work normally again after all of this.

  23. poppy says:

    this sale has 0 to do with anything current. christie’s has been authenticating as many pieces as they can convince owners to allow and hunting buyers to be lined up. this would have been in the making for nlt a year, likely much longer.
    christie’s has been on a basquait rampage as of late and setting records. this doesn’t just happen overnight.

    oh, and brett ratface, what a joke and no surprise there. nasty pos.

  24. cd3 says:

    This movie sounds like a mess. It sounds like JD’s other movie, The Libertine, meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

    I will not see it, or any other JD movie, for so many reasons.

  25. Craig says:

    I agree with Frosty….as someone in the art world myself I would never advise a client to put 9 major works by a blue chip artist to market at the exact same time—it can devalue some of the pieces.

    Keep in mind a single top Basquiat can go for up to $20 million.

    I’ve dealt with auction houses for years–the only time I’ve seen these kinds of fire sales is when the owner needs money very badly and very soon.

    Truthfully if I were Amber I’d settle for taking all 9 as is and reap the rewards of their appreciation over the next decades—she’s so young if she sold all 9 in 20 years they would fetch a heck of a lot more than they’d go for now. She’d easily be sitting on over $150 million assuming top condition and such.

  26. bettyrose says:

    When I was 13, I didn’t think I’d ever meet a boy cuter than Johnny Depp. Everyone ages, but so few people actually molt, or whatever he’s doing here.

  27. jammypants says:

    Wasn’t he already in a movie called The Libertine?

  28. Cali says:

    Ugh. How rich. TMZ is saying that his lawyers are now accusing Amber of her publicly trying Johnny in the media. Are they JOKING? They are the ones who started the nonstop assault on her character the second she filed for divorce!

    I hope the idiot gives her a fair settlement but man I so wish that some of his exes would come forward and freaking help Amber out here.

  29. SparkleFace says:

    I’ve never quite understood why someone would buy crazy expensive paintings especially if they’re not being displayed. Is it an investment? Do paintings appreciate in value?

    • eleri says:


    • Meadow says:

      Yes , the art world went crazy after 2008, major art was the only thing holding its value after the money melt down, now anyone with spare millions invests heavily in quality big name art, particularly contemporary art.

  30. caitlinK says:

    To me Basquiat and Warhol are the same: extremely overrated. I have never been moved or impressed by either.

  31. Mac says:

    It is strikingly cruel to try a man on a gossip rag, but crueler still to use a horrendous photo to blacken him in your viewers’s eyes.

    • Mltpsych says:

      Any recent photo of him anywhere looks like this. He is starting to get that picked skin, meth-face look.

    • Lady D says:

      “strikingly cruel” Interesting phrase. If anyone would know about striking and cruel, it would be Johnny.

  32. Geneva says:

    I sometimes think of the very talented actor River Phoenix who died of a heroin overdose outside of Johnny Depp’s club the Viper Room so long ago. I sometimes wondered when it would all catch up with him (Depp) …but he strikes me right now as someone who is going to hit bottom…if the bottom does not rise up and hit him first. Don’t want to see him go…die..but I believe booze, drugs are killing him right now…

  33. unicorn says:

    He looks like the walking dead…or a vampire…terrible.

    • siri says:

      He just went to his private island- perhaps to get clean, and sobered up. Or maybe he just looses it completely.

  34. Nik says:

    What movie has he been in with stellar acting? Besides the highly profitable and typical money maker if POTC he hasn’t done great work in decades. This music thing is not for everyone especially a drinker. Sorry but he is scary now. Teeth are black complexion is terrible