HBO is going to premiere a documentary by Lisanne Skyler, Brillo Box (3¢ Off), charting the massive rise in cost of a rare Warhol ‘Brillo Box’. This year marks 40 years since Warhol’s death, and in that time, public fascination with him hasn’t waned. Skyler’s approach to the story is highly personal, as her parents were art collectors who bought cheaper pieces from Manhattan art galleries. They briefly owned a rare Warhol ‘Brillo Box’ that they paid only $1000 for in 1969 (they were worth 200 just five years earlier), but that was worth $3.3 million in 2010 when it appeared at Christie’s New York.
The Brillo Box sculptures were made by Warhol and his assistant between 1963 and 1964 and are for the most part ordinary white cubes in the product’s colour scheme. However, a few, including Skyler’s, overlay the red and blue Brillo label onto a yellow box. However, as artnetnotes, the documentary is less about the production than it is the fascinating story of the art market.
The film is 40 minutes long and Lisanne fills it with photos, memories, interviews with her parents and Warhol experts, and more. It’s touching and deeply personal, covering details like Lisanne’s father keeping the box covered and making sure to get it signed. The family only kept the piece for two years, and it wasn’t until more than 20 years later that Warhol’s work began to be worth much, much more. The current record for a Warhol is $105 million.
Skyler’s research is in-depth, charting the box as it changes hands over the years, even selling to Charles Saatchi in 1988. She told artnet News that she was interested in the box’s life and “all the different decisions around it and what they reflect. I began by interviewing my parents because that was almost like a screen test.” adding, “there is this economic moment, and there is this feeling of ‘wait, what does this object really mean to us?’ You could see how things change and there were little flickers of regret”. She also said that art was a huge part of their family.
The documentary will premiere on HBO August 7 at 10pm.