The Fake Warhol Lectures, Part III: "He Used The Medium Of The Lecture Circuit, You Might Say"

My favorite line in the Daily Utah Chronicle interview with Paul Morrissey, where he admits Andy Warhol sent a double, actor Allen Midgette, to a lecture at the University of Utah, is from Kay Israel, assistant editor campus paper:

Mr. Morrissey:...On the back of Nico's Chelsea Girls Album there is a picture of Warhol...That's where the talk of Andy having Nico impersonate him. And Andy once impersonated Nico. We do it a lot in New York..."

Israel: Well being from the West I don't think we're quite used to it."

Nothing gets closer to capturing the mutual bafflement between the University representatives involved--at least the organizers and the student reporters--and the Warhol/Morrissey camp. It's fascinating how much the subject of the speaking fee comes up, as if the whole lecture series were a con orchestrated by some flaky New York grifters going after the money of gullible country folk from "out West."

There's also a regular skepticism that crops up about "Pop Art," as if it, too, is a scam. It's a sentiment I was surprised to find still, when I spoke about the vagaries and influences of money on the reception/perception of a work of art. Minimalism, conceptualism, pop, whole generations of contemporary artistic production and exploration were all still suspect.

And I feel my questions about the sources of authenticity and artistic value only fueled that doubt, as if astronomical prices paid for art could somehow be warranted, after all, by a single artist's craftsmanship and technique, but not by their ideas, or even by the other aesthtetic qualities of the objects they created [or "jobbed out," to use one audience member's derogatory term.]

The entire practice of art is wrought with subjectivity, which translates into money very roughly. So it's fascinating to read an almost obsessive investigation into the art-money flimflam from nearly 40 years ago--and find it still resonates. Things are still different "out West," I guess.

"Warhol Hoax Confirmed!" by Kay Israel and Angelyn Nelson, The Daily Utah Chronicle, p.1, Thursday Feb. 8, 1968:

Andy Warhol, the controversial pop artist, has never been to the Unviersity of Utah. Instead, Alan Midgett [sic], a University of Oregon actor, took his place.

Warhol's subsitute used the funds ($2,600) he received from the lecture ath the University of Oregon, Linfield College and the Unversity of Montana to go to Europe where he is appearing in Italian films, said Paul Morrissey, Warhol's manager.

In a statement from New York, Warhol justified the hoax by saying "because i don't really have that much to say, he was better than I am... he was what the people expected. They liked him better than they would have me because I have been going on tours since then, because they would rather have someone like that than me."

In an exclusive Chronicle interivew, Mr. Morrissey, confirmed Warhol's statement.

Paul Cracroft, director of Lectures and Concerts, had informed the Chronicle earlier Thursday that Warhol had not appeared at the University. The American Programs Bureau stated to Mr. Cracroft Morrissey had called them and revealed the hoax.

"My '007 Award of the Month' goes to the Chronicle for helping birddog this thing through," said Mr. Cracrof. "While the pressure of all this that was brought to bare [sic] was gentle, it was persuasive enough to cause Mr. Morrissey to 'blow his cool.'"

Kay Israel, Chronicle assistant editor, talked with Morrissey.

Israel: "Was it Warhol who came to the University?"

Mr. Morrissey: "No, no it was not."

Israel: "Was there any reason why you did it?"
Mr. Morrissey: "Andy Warhol thought that his substitute would be better for public consumption. Like a person that was younger and better looking and better spoken...He used the medium of the lecture circuit, you might say in an original way...We thought that the creative person was a better thing for the stage and appearances, but it did seem like the people really didn't care what they were seeing as long as they thought they were seeing the real thing. We know that you knew about it very quickly after, because it started first of all with the television and tape and everything. We just thought it would be best to postpone the formal announcement. Of course, the school didn't give us any money. But it's all right. If they want us to go back there, we souldn't mind going back. You see though, it's the first version was probably better."

Israel: "Have you received any mail from Utah?"
Mr. Morrissey: "Yes, yes, I got a letter not long afterwards. Mr. Cracroft said he had reason to beleive that a photographer in New York had told him that it wasn't really Andy...I just wrote him a letter that didn't make any sense. It was just to stall him. It was when we were going out and I didn't want it to interfere with the other colleges."

Israel: "There has been some talk about the American Programs Bureauy..."
Mr. Morrissey: "As far as that goes, they had no idea of it at all..."

Israel: "I was told that the American Programs Bureau had already paid Mr. Warhol."
Mr. Morrissey: "That might be true, but they owe us a lot of money for other colleges. I just hoe you look upon it as an experiment. We didn't mean to upset you. We just thought it was an interesting idea."

Israel: "Can we get a picture of the actual Mr. Warhol?"
Mr. Morrissey: "Oh, we just don't have any..."

Israel: "The Villave Voice had one in December. Was that the actual Mr. Warhol?"
Mr. Morrissey: "Yes, oh yeah. On the back of Nico's Chelsea Girls Album there is a picture of Warhol...That's where the talk of Andy having Nico impersonate him. And Andy once impersonated Nico. We do it a lot in New York..."

Israel: Well being from the West I don't think we're quite used to it."

Mr. Cracroft has since October been probing into the "problem." He has sent letters and talked with various persons to either prove or disprove Warhol's appearance at the University. Because of sufficient doubts and moutning evidence against Warhol's visit in Salt Lake, Mr. Cracroft withheld payment of a $1,000 fee.

Having compiled all these evidences, Mr. Cracrof said, "by then the Chronicle got in the act and did the probing around found the pictures from the Village voice and apparently alerted the whole doggone city of New York that something was in the works and finally with all of this pressure coming from all sides...we really brought enought pressure to bear that Morrissey had to go to the Programs Bureau people and confess..."

He indicated that the University of Oregon became suspicious in December two months after the University of Utah when we contacted them.

When asked if the University would invite the real Andy Warhol to appear, Mr. Cracoft said, "I am frankly just not sure we want to have another look at Andy Warhol, even the real one."

The last article about the Warhol lecture hoax UofU student Michelle Condrat found was from the front page of the Chronicle, Friday, Feb. 9, 1968. By Kay Israel and Angelyn Nelson again, it was titled: "Buy Tomato Soup?: What To Do With 'Warhol's' Pay?"
The University does not plan to refund the students' money from the 'Andy Warhol' lecture or file a legal suit against Warhol for violation of contract.

Warhol sent a double to three other universities: University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore.; Linfield College, McMinnville, Ore.; and Montana State, Bozeman, Mont. [ed: earlier, they said UofMT, and the actor Allan Midgette also said he went to Missoula, not Bozeman.] during October.

Warhol collected his fee from the American Programs Bureau, but the University did not pay the bureau because of suspicions that the lecturer was an imposter.

More Warhol?
"I don't know that it would be worthwhile having him again [sic], said Paul Cracroft, director of Lectures and Concerts. "I'd just like to save the money and put it into another artist and have him come and give somebody something else."

Perhaps the funds we received in admissions, Cracroft said, could be used for a free lectuire.

According to Mr. Cracroft, the public confidence Warhol will lose from the hoax is hard to determine. Legally, the impersonation would fall under the violation of contract since Warhol himself was scheduled to appear.

Legal Suit?
When asked if the University would file a legal suit, Mr. Cracroft responded, "Well, this is difficult to say. At the moment, and I can't speak for the University's legal department, I wouldn't think it's worth the effort. I think we would probably take the agency for any costs the were involved. We had advertising costs..."

When contacted by the Chronicle, Mike Fancher [sp], editor of the University of Oregon's Daily Emerald, said the Oregon university woulod not refund the money but is considering allowing the real Andy Warhol to give a lecture.

"It's a question now of whetehr or not he definitely will come. He said he could be willing," Fancher said.

Check?
Miss Charlont Fidor [sp], advisor for the Linfield Review, told the Chronicle teh baptists college "expected to have a check sent by the booking company tomorrow."

Fancher told the Chronicle few thought Warhol had sent an impersonator previous to the Wednesday's news release.

"In fact the student body really hasn't reacted too violently at all, Fancher reported.

Miss Fidor said the Linfield students had no idea that they had seen Alan Midgett [sic], Warhol's impersonator, and not Andy Warhol. The students didn't expect it at all, she said. It wasn't until the University of Utah and the University of Oregon discovered the fact that Linfield had any idea of the hoax.

Chronicle Sleuths
When asked what was responsible for the action taken yb the Daily Emerald, Fancher replied, "Well, we picked it up from you at the Chronicle [...] the final questions of it [...] that the legal issues, the Eugene [...] called whoever it was in New York and talked to him."

It was sleuth by [?] the student paper and the local press that did the real work," related Fancher.

Mr. Cracroft indicated the University would be willing to have other pop artists "if they're wonderful and can assure us somehow they're coming themselves." To be sure the real artist comes, he suggested "blood tests and finger prints."

Previously: Part I, Part II

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: April 9, 2007.

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