When Harriet Woodsom Gould died in 2016 in her early 90s, she left behind a treasure trove of family heirlooms dating back to the 1700s at her home in Amesbury, Massachusetts. However, in her attic, she had a real secret sanctuary of pop art.
There she had hidden the belongings of her late son Jon Gould for decades since his death in 1986 from AIDS. He had vases painted by Jean-Michel Basquiat, works by Keith Haring and dozens and dozens of gifts – photos, valentines, sketches, letters and more – from the god of pop Andy Warhol.
“My mom kept everything,” Jon’s twin brother, Jay Gould, told The Post. Jay knew his brother “had some sort of relationship” with Warhol in the 1980s, although Jon always kept a tight-lipped about it. “We were very close identical twins, but we never talked much about his sexuality,” said Jay, now 68. “It was a different time.”
Yet he was still amazed to read the poetry and love notes Jon had written to the older artist. “I didn’t realize the relationship was as deep as it was.”
In fact, no one really knew. Gould was the last romance of Warhol, a young, floppy-haired, preppy-looking Paramount executive who died tragically at 33. was more of a crush than a real partner. (Plus, few could top the often wicked diary drollery of the rich and famous. Poor Liz Taylor was described as looking like “a navel”!)
Netflix’s new six-part series, “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” aims to change that, though. Premiering Wednesday, it digs beneath the surface of the diaries and into Warhol’s later romantic relationships and their impact on Warhol’s life and work. In doing so, he paints a more vulnerable portrait of the artist, who has often presented himself as a cold, asexual crackpot.
“He was a lustful man, full of humanity, and that comes through in his queer longing and his search for spiritual meaning,” series director Andrew Rossi told The Post.
“They were really in love”
Gould did not enter Warhol’s life so much as Warhol wanted him there. It was April 1981 and Warhol, then 52, was still reeling from his split with Jed Johnson.
Jed – everyone agreed – was an angel. He arrived at Warhol’s Factory in the spring of 1968, 19 and fresh off the Sacramento bus, delivering a telegram. He started doing odd jobs around the place and in his spare time he learned to edit films, eventually working on Warhol films.
When Warhol, then 49, was shot in June, Jed moved into the East 66th Street townhouse the artist shared with his mother to help him recover. He stayed for 12 years.
“They were really in love,” Jed’s twin brother Jay Johnson said on the show, confirming the relationship was sexual. “They shared a room.” (Yes, Jed – like Gould – also had a twin named Jay. As Bob Colacello, who edited Warhol’s Interview magazine, notes in the doc, the “Marilyn” diptych painter “loved doubles.”)
Jed gave Warhol a sense of stability he craved after the traumatic gunfight and destructive chaos of the 1960s Factory scene. They adopted two dogs and Jed decorated their new home, launching a new career as an architect. interior. But in 1980, Warhol’s journals reveal “family problems”, due to certain X-rated Polaroids Warhol took, his incessant parties at Studio 54, and his friendships with toxic individuals. Jed left in December, and that spring Warhol confessed to feeling lonely.
“Now I live alone and somehow I’m relieved, but I don’t want to be alone in this big house with just Nena and Aurora. [Warhol’s maids] and Archie and Amos [the dogs]“, he says in his diary. “I have this desperate feeling that nothing means anything. And then I decide I should try to fall in love, and that’s what I’m doing now with Jon Gould.
Gould was a 26-year-old Paramount executive: a WASP from New England with a lithe, strong physique and a charismatic personality, who looked straight. Warhol reasoned, “Jon is a good person to love because he has his own career, and I can develop movie ideas with him, you know? And maybe he can even convince Paramount to advertise in Interview as well. Law? So my crush on him will be good for business.
Warhol began wooing Gould with a vengeance, sending extravagant bouquets of roses to his Paramount office. He even gifted their mutual friend, photographer Christopher Makos, a fancy watch if he could make Gould his boyfriend. “I guess he was never loved,” Makos says on the show. “Because I didn’t get my watch.” (Jay Gould also tells the camera that his brother admitted he was in a relationship but said they didn’t have sex.)
At first Gould resisted Warhol’s attention, but eventually the two began to spend a lot of time together, although Gould frequently walked away if things got too intense, and he often told Warhol not to write. about him in his diary. “I think my brother was preoccupied with his career at that time,” Jay Gould said. But the young man attended parties and art events with him, invited the artist to ski with his family in Aspen, and even moved into his house on 66th Street for a while.
“I love going out with Jon because it’s like being on a real date,” Warhol wrote at the start of their relationship. “He’s big and strong and I feel like he can take care of me.”
“This fear and this shame”
Still, it turned out that Warhol had to deal with Gould. On February 4, 1984, Jon was admitted to hospital in New York with pneumonia – although it was understood he had AIDS. Warhol stayed with him in the hospital every night for his 30 days there, despite his fear of hospitals since being shot and his fear of catching AIDS. (Warhol couldn’t bring himself to write about Gould’s illness in the diary, but his editor notes that when Gould was released on March 7, Warhol had his housekeepers wash Jon’s clothes and dishes” separately from mine”.)
Around 1985, Warhol began work on his massive series of 100 works based on Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”. Jessica Beck, curator at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Warhol’s hometown, said the paintings seemed to directly reference Gould and the AIDS crisis, especially those with images of bodybuilders (Gould was a fitness obsessive) and one with a capital “C”. a reference to what Warhol called “gay cancer”.
“He had this deep-rooted Catholic faith, this fear and shame, and was deeply terrified of contracting AIDS,” Beck told the Post. “When I started researching the paintings of ‘The Last Supper’ and saw that at the time he was writing so much about Jon Gould, I was surprised. I was like, ‘ Who is he, and why is nobody talking about him?’
Gould has never seen these paintings. He eventually went to Los Angeles and died there on September 8, 1986. The diary contains an editor’s note stating that he weighed only 70 pounds and was blind. “He denied even to close friends that he had AIDS,” the note concludes.
Another side of Warhol
The book “The Andy Warhol Diaries” caused a sensation when it was published in 1989, two years after Warhol died at the age of 58 from cardiac arrest. The massive tome – taken from some 20,000 pages of the famous pop artist’s daily musings, dictated and then edited by his friend Pat Hackett – included every party he attended, the cab ride he took, the trash he he watched on TV and the celebrity interactions he had in the last 11 years of his life. It is often seen as a scintillating, meaningless and nameless guilty pleasure.
But read carefully, “The Andy Warhol Diaries” revealed another side of Warhol.
“I think all the celebrities and party lists are a distraction, they’re almost a false flag of the real purpose behind it,” Rossi told The Post. “So I went through several years and tried to almost decode the newspapers and read between the lines and connect the events with photographs and artwork.”
Jay Gould said he was grateful to see the relationship that had to be kept hidden for so long explained on screen. “When my brother passed away, a lot of magazines categorized him as a parasite who took advantage of Andy and that really bothered me,” Jay said. “I knew my brother would want me [set the record straight].”
He’s already seen all six episodes of the show, but plans to have a viewing party in Maui, Hawaii, where he has a restaurant and spends his winters.
“Jon was larger than life, and Andrew [Rossi] captured that,” he said. “I still miss my brother. He brought my brother back to life.