I was walking through Soho today and saw an apartment building with it’s front door wide open. I wandered in and made my way to the top, hoping the door to the roof wouldn’t be armed with an alarm and that I could sneak out and get a new view. It wasn’t, and it was awesome up there, but on the way up I came across something way cooler.
It wasn’t hard to spot. Every wall in this building is the same clean, newly painted off-white. The building is actually in the middle of being renovated now, hence the wide open front door. But one little piece of it’s gritty Soho past has been preserved indefinitely. It’s a tag from SAMO, better known as Jean-Michel Basquiat, nestled safely behind a piece of plexiglass. Above it is a tag with “84” on it, so presumably the SAMO tag popped up around the same time.
For a graffiti nerd, this thing is like the holy grail. Basquiat is the biggest graffiti success story there is. The dude was living in Tompkins Square Park when he started tagging SAMO and within a few years was best friends with Andy Warhol, exhibiting all over the world, and making enough money selling his art that he could afford to spend $2k a week on drugs. These, of course, did him in, but he left an amazing legacy and inspired a whole new generation of writers and street artists.
Good on whoever owns this building to preserve this piece of graffiti history.