Andy Warhol got a lot of his creative inspiration from the people he gathered at his ‘factory’ in New York during the 1960s, with models, singers, and actresses striving to be the stars of his art. While some were already well-known in their own right, for others their relationship with Warhol was what essentially turned them into celebrities.
Here’s a who’s who of his famous connections.
1. Edie Segwick
Edie Sedgwick is instantly recognisable. She was the transatlantic version of Twiggy and the poster girl of the New York swinging scene. She met Warhol at Tennessee Williams‘ birthday party in March 1965, and went on to become his ‘Girl of the Year’ in 1965, starring in ten films in less than a year (including Poor Little Rich Girl, which was written about her). Nonetheless, Sedgwick and Warhol’s platonic love affair lasted just a few years, with Sedgwick leaving the Factory set in 1966 and falling under the spell of Bob Dylan. In 1971, Edie sadly died of an overdose aged just 28.
2. Cornelia Guest
Being the goddaughter of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Cornelia Guest was always going to have high society connections. She made her social debut at the age of 18 and was quickly dubbed the ‘Debutante of the Decade.’ Warhol, a close friend of her polo-playing father and wealthy mother, was often seen glued to her side, always a lover of the flashbulbs. This was true until she abandoned the party scene and became a born-again vegan and animal rights activist. She most recently appeared as a character in Sex and Vanity, Kevin Kwan’s follow-up to Crazy Rich Asians.
3. Bianca Jagger
Bianca Jagger and Warhol devoted most of the 1970s ripping up the dancefloor at Studio 54 nightclub, united by their passion for partying. Unlike most of Warhol’s acolytes, she was famous in her own right – not just as the first wife of Mick Jagger, but also for her activism – and so was less reliant on him for that. This might explain why she sued his estate after he died, since she was offended by his portrayal of her as ‘unintelligent’ in his memoirs.
4. Jane Holzner
Better known as ‘Baby Jane Holzner,’ Jane Holzner was Warhol’s first ‘Girl of the Year’ in 1964. She was the daughter of a wealthy Florida tycoon, and was disillusioned with her privileged housewife existence on Park Avenue. She decided to act in Warhol’s film Soap Opera after a fortuitous meeting with him on Lexington Avenue, and was soon shooting for Vogue with David Bailey. She walked out of the spotlight sooner than her contemporaries since she was less connected with the Factory culture, although she maintained her friendship with Warhol until his death. She’s now a well-known art collector who spends her days surrounded by works by Basquiat, Richard Prince, and, of course, Warhol.
5. Diane von Fürstenberg
Also a mover and shaker on the 1970s New York scene, fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg was another notable beauty pursued by Warhol when the two met through his business manager, Fred Hughes. He requested her to pose for his 1982 Beauties show after completing a portrait of her onto a little strip of white wall in her kitchen one night.
6. Brigid Berlin
Brigid Berlin‘s parents were also part of Manhattan’s social elite, with regular guests to her home when she was growing up including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Richard Nixon, and Joan Crawford. Instead of becoming a “slim respectable socialite,” she sought a career in the arts, eventually becoming one of Warhol’s most key collaborators and appearing in dozens of his films. She also produced her own art, including a book of double-exposed Polaroids, a series of works created by splattering paint on her breasts. She was an obsessive documentarian of her own life, taking numerous images and movies of the Factory, many of which are now in the documentaries about Warhol and the Factory.
Nico was one of Warhol’s most famous pals. In the mid-1960s, she was introduced to the artist by Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, and she went on to feature in Warhol’s film Chelsea Girls in 1966, before recording songs with the Velvet Underground (Warhol designed the album cover and poster for the resulting work).
8. Ultra Violet
Isabelle Collin Dufresne, a well-known artist in her own right, was introduced to Warhol by her former lover Salvador Dali in 1963. Warhol was smitten by her French accent and classical beauty, and he cast her in one of his films, subsequently changing her into ‘Ultra Violet,’ a persona with purple hair and makeup. She later repented for her hedonistic period at the Factory, becoming a born-again Christian and a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. She detailed her various love affairs but remarkably limited drug usage in a memoir of their years together, Famous for 15 Minutes: My Years with Andy Warhol, published in the 1980s.