It Seems Like Yesterday

I first met Andy Warhol when I came to New York in 1964 with the Beatles. He was making one of his underground films, and I photographed some of his entourage at the Chelsea Hotel.  I hadn’t run into him in quite some time when Bianca Jagger suggested we have lunch at The Factory, Warhol’s studio, which was as infamous as the artist himself. We were joined by fellow artists Jamie Wyeth and Larry Rivers.

Mostly the conversation was about politics—Jimmy Carter had just become president. Warhol had his tape recorder on and spoke in a whisper, which meant everyone had to lean forward to hear him. He was controlling the conversation, but in a pleasant way.  He was snapping photographs as well, documenting the day for his magazine, Interview.

Warhol was fascinated to learn that I knew and had photographed the eccentric but fascinating chess champion Bobby Fischer and said he would love to meet him. Personally I think Warhol would have had as much of a chance of getting Queen Elizabeth to The Factory as he would have had getting Fischer there, as Bobby was the most reclusive person I had ever met, but I truly liked Fischer and respected his talent.

Some years later I photographed Andy again with his double-portrait of Pia Zadora in the background. I told him an amusing story, which I had failed to mention when I photographed him in 1977 with Bianca.

When Gerald Ford became president in 1974, I was commissioned to photograph the new president for LIFE magazine, and sometime later Vogue asked me to send over a Ford photograph for their next issue. I waited for the issue to arrive, and was I surprised when I opened the issue and found my photograph completely splashed with paint by Warhol—without my knowledge or permission. Warhol asked if I had been paid. I told him yes, but not as much as you… and we laughed. 

Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, Larry Rivers, and Jamie Wyeth at The Factory, 1977. (Photographed by Harry Benson)