/ 6 December 2012

Diddy buys Murray at Art Basel Miami Beach

Sean "Puffy" Combs at Art Basel Miami Beach in front of the artwork he bought
Sean "Puffy" Combs at Art Basel Miami Beach in front of the artwork he bought

Full of swagger, hip-hop royalty Sean "Puffy" Combs sauntered into the Goodman Gallery space at booth number C20 at Art Basel Miami Beach late on Thursday afternoon.

Within minutes he paid in full and on the spot for Brett Murray's provocative wall installation titled Manifesto (2012). The sardonic piece, handmade by Murray in metal, paint and gold leaf, presents a witty play on comrade red, and the motherland's very own precious metal: goldmine gold.

Manifesto defiantly previewed earlier in the year at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, the site of the politically charged "art as weapon" fiasco borne out of Murray's work The Spear, in which Murray satirised South African President Jacob Zuma.

The piece forms part of Murray's exhibition Hail to the Thief II, continuing the artist's dialogue – or rather backchat – mirroring abuses of power, corruption and political dumbness. The piece is now part of the art collection of the legendary American mogul millionaire rapper, record producer, media executive, musician, actor, entrepreneur and collector Sean Combs.

A sly and humorous exposé of political promises, the work reads "promises, promises, promises" (said with a sigh, no doubt), and references greed and lies within the ruling elite. 

Senior curator Neil Dundas eloquently described the piece, and Murray's significance, to the man in shades. Then, without skipping a beat, Dundas politely reviewed the price tag. Within a few moments, plastic changed hands. Soon after, Diddy rolled on out, as he does, with his entourage: a mix of tall, gorgeous men with artfully designed hairstyles, his security personnel and a flock of statuesque women.

Later on Thursday, I spoke to the Goodman Gallery crew who confirmed the deal had in fact gone down and described, with some pleasure, how Murray's career has made yet another historic turn, coining the phrase "Brett Murray: AD – After Diddy".