Ever experience one of those incidents where you've never, ever seen or heard of someone before in your life, then suddenly run across him or her three times in a row? Here's where I must introduce you all to Pietro Psaier. Or, rather, I would introduce Pietro, except he's supposedly dead and I'm not exactly sure what he did while he was alive. Maybe you can help me.
See, "Pietro Psaier" keeps hitting my radar, and every time it's in conjunction with Andy Warhol. In fact, I keep reading the same press release, almost verbatim, from multiple sources.
What, in part, the press release says about Pietro Psaier:
- He was born in 1936. Although, in a different iteration of the press release and many auction lot results online, he was born in 1939.
- "Whilst working as a waiter in the Greenwich Village Gaslight Café in 1964 he met Andy Warhol and an extraordinary bisexual relationship blossomed between the two." (Me: All right, I confess old hetero lady ignorance. How do two men share a 'bisexual relationship?')
- "Warhol nicknamed him 'Peter the Italian' and their relationship continued on and off until the late 1960's.
- "In 1974 Psaier became the second youngest artist to be awarded the ‘Italian-American Institute of Art' 56th Annual Award, in New York, a prize given for inspiration to artistic Peers."
- "In 1978 Psaier and Warhol eventually reunited for a joint exhibition at Gallerie D. Brussels."
- "In September 2004, Pietro Psaier was asked by Our Lady of Malibu Church, high above the Malibu coastline to exhibit his highly acclaimed series The Passion of the Christ."
- "As a result of the Indian Ocean earthquake which struck on December 26th 2004 and the Tsunami which followed, Pietro Psaier's remote beach house on the coast of Sri Lanka was swept away and his body was never found."
- Me: And lots of other statements and names.
I can't find record of a prize named the "Italian-American Institute of Art Annual Award," let alone its 56th recipient. The John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at Queens College in New York has not responded to my email inquiry. Neither has Our Lady of Malibu responded--probably because, in both cases, it sounds like a raving nut job (meaning: me) wrote the emails. There doesn't seem to be or have been a "Gallerie D. Brussels" anywhere on the face of the earth, nor did any of Andy Warhol's 1978 exhibitions take place in a venue containing the word "Brussels." And, honestly, swept away by the catastrophic 2004 tsunami? Surely there is a legal notice--somewhere--declaring Pietro Psaier officially dead?
In sum, the only things I can tell you definitively about Pietro Psaier are that this mystery man's work is up at auction on September 17, 2008, a documentary about his life is in pre-production and his Wikipedia entry has been taken down.
What I want to know is this: are the works at auction from, and the documentary about a real person who did everything the press release claims he did? Again, can anyone help me suss out the documented truth behind Pietro Psaier? Please answer in the comments, and leave any applicable sources, if possible, so interested parties can check them. Thanks.
UPDATE September 3, 2009. Please feel free to check out the comments (below) that have accumulated over the past year and then/or instead read the latest developments.
- The Works of Pietro Psaier - auction at John Nicholson Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers
- PSI Films - news of pre-production work on a Pietro Psaier "biopic/documentary"
- Wikipedia: "Articles for deletion/Pietro Psaier" - fascinating (and occasionally threatening) commentary here
- Gary Comenas' excellent Warholstars website had a page about Pietro Psaier that now redirects the reader to the home page (see parenthetic thought directly above)
Update: There is now a lengthy chronology of all things Pietro Psaier on the Warholstars site. Kudos to Mr. Comenas for an enormous amount of research.
- "Mystery of the unknown artist who ‘painted with Andy Warhol’" - Times Online, August 7, 2008
"Pietro Psaier & Andy Warhol in the studio"
Undated image courtesy of John Nicholson Auctioneers