Deep in the doodle: Scrawl on the wall of a pub worth $5m

Lifestyle

Deep in the doodle: Scrawl on the wall of a pub worth $5m

FREE TO READ | Yoshimoto Nara won’t cash in on his drunken scribbling outside the loos of a New York bar a decade ago

Tymon Smith

A few weeks ago  in Hong Kong, a super-flat painting of a surly, glaring girl with large green eyes, barefoot and dressed in a red dress, sold for $25m at Sotheby’s. The work, Knife Behind Back, is arguably the most famous image created by Japanese street artist Yoshimoto Nara and smashed the previous auction record for his work by $21m.

It had unforeseen consequences for the owners of Niagara, a cult punk bar in New York’s East Village. A decade ago, while in town for a gallery show, Nara decided to unwind by having a few drinks at Niagara.

Suitably unwound and filled with sudden inspiration, the artist drunkenly began to doodle some of his signature figures on the walls leading to the bar’s toilets. He signed and dated the works and headed off into the night where, still under the influence of alcohol and artistic inspiration, he scribbled some graffiti on the walls of a nearby subway station and was promptly arrested for his efforts...

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