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Kanye West’s famous 'Famous' sculpture is not for sale, gallery says

Hang on, Internet: Donald J. Trump’s naked bottom does not cost $4 million.

The Web was ablaze this morning, following a New York Times report Wednesday that Kanye West’s “Famous” sculpture, which was exhibited at Blum & Poe gallery in L.A. last weekend, was carrying a seven-figure price tag. The battery-operated piece features 12 naked pop cultural and political heavyweights lying side by side in bed -- Trump literally in bed with pop princess Taylor Swift, “Vogue” editor in chief Anna Wintour, George W. Bush and Bill Cosby, among others.

But the gallery said the report was incorrect: The piece, which appeared in West’s “Famous” music video, released in June (watch the video here, but be warned that it does contain graphic content), does not cost $4 million dollars. It is not even for sale right now.

“It’s misinformation, the work is not for sale as of now and never was,” the gallery’s press representative, Nicoletta Beyer, said. “We’ve never discussed or agreed upon a price [with West]. The $4 million, there’s no weight to that.” 

A representative from the New York Times says that the paper fully stands by its story.

Perhaps it was a misunderstanding between reporter and subject: When the New York Times reporter ran the supposed $4 million price tag by gallery co-founder Tim Blum, he called it “a good ballpark.”

“The sculpture was never for sale; I was quoted out of context,” Blum said in a phone interview. “It was just a pop-up exhibition based on my and the gallery’s interest in Kanye West as a multidisciplinary artist and the fact that we do these kinds of events with regularity. If it was for sale, I’d be very happy to sell it to the right buyer, and we’d work in concert with Kanye to price it and sell it – but that hasn’t happened yet.”

Beyer said Blum was referring to the work’s value, generally, and not an agreed upon sale price.

“He was saying that if it were for sale, that would make sense, hypothetically, but we don’t know where that particular number came from.”  

"We are incredibly flattered that a number is being reported,” a spokesperson for West said in an email to the Los Angeles Times. “But at no point have we ever disclosed a sale price for the piece.

“Once again, we are flattered by such interest, but as far as Mr. West is concerned -- it's all about the art,” the email read. 

The New York Times article also reported: “A source close to Mr. West claimed ‘Famous’ would go on tour.”

Beyer said that was misleading: “It’s not being shown anywhere; as of now it doesn’t have a destination,” Beyer said. “It’s safely being stored. We’ll see what comes next.”

A representative for West said there are no imminent or evolved tour plans, but that West’s team was “looking forward to announcing when ‘Famous’ will be available again for viewing." 

The sculpture, inspired by painter Vincent Desiderio's 2008 piece "Sleep" -- which itself was based on Jackson Pollock’s “Mural” painting -- features super-realistic-looking silicone figures in deep slumber, their breath rising and falling. West is among the bodies in bed, along with his wife Kim Kardashian and their exes, Amber Rose and Ray J, as well as Caitlyn Jenner, Rihanna and Chris Brown – with nothing but a rumpled, white sheet between them.

West didn’t attend the gallery opening because he was already headed on tour. Kardashian was there, though, ogling her sculpture double’s exposed bottom along with everyone else.

The two-evening pop-up show was meant to be a small, private, last-minute showing of the sculpture, the gallery said; that it took place a day before the launch of West’s “Saint Pablo” tour was simply fortuitous, “just happenstance,” Beyer said.

West had approached Blum & Poe about showcasing the sculpture at the gallery, which represents the artist Takashi Murakami, who designed West’s “Graduation” album cover. So West had natural ties to Blum & Poe, she said.

“We’re all fans of his work at the gallery and so it made sense,” Beyer said. “We’re in between shows and had the time.”

West’s spokesperson said the team would be releasing an email statement to correct any misinformation.

deborah.vankin@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter: @DebVankin

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UPDATES:

12:11 p.m. This article was updated with a comment from the New York Times. This article was originally published Sept. 1 at 2:05 p.m.

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