An ad by Tiffany & Co. starring Beyoncé and Jay Z that heavily features a never-before-seen painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat has garnered immense criticism after Basquiat’s real-life collaborators have been left appalled and horrified by the massive commodification of his art.

The ad, released on Aug. 23, highlights Beyoncé wearing the 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond while she and Jay Z lounge in front of an unseen Basquiat painting entitled "Equals Pi," according to news site Black Enterprise. Beyoncé is only the third celebrity, and first black woman, to wear the signature jewel after Audrey Hepburn while promoting "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Lady Gaga at the 2019 Oscars.

“We know [Basquiat] loved New York, and that he loved luxury and he loved jewelry. My guess is that the [blue painting] is not by chance. The color is so specific that it has to be some kind of homage,” Alexandre Arnault, executive vice president of Tiffany & Co, told Women’s Wear Daily.

“As you can see, there is zero Tiffany blue in the campaign other than the painting. It’s a way to modernize Tiffany blue,” he continued.

People who worked with Basquiat have been angered by the ad, saying that it misconstrues the meaning behind the painting and Basquiat’s intentions and beliefs, according to the Daily Beast.

“[The] commercialization and commodification of Jean and his art at this point—it’s really not what Jean was about,” Alexis Adler said. He questioned the inclusion of the rare painting in an ad, saying “Why show it as a prop to an ad? Loan it out to a museum.”

Basquiat’s collaborator Al Diaz is also adamant about how misunderstood Basquiat’s art has become: “At this point, the only people that could afford a Basquiat are people he was targeting. Like, you’re the oppressor. They buy it out so that it becomes meaningless.”

“The idea that this blue background, which I mixed and applied, was in any way related to Tiffany Blue is so absurd that at first, I chose not to comment. But this very perverse appropriation of the artist’s inspiration is just too much,” Stephen Torton, who mixed Basquiat’s paints, said.

Neither Beyoncé and Jay Z nor Tiffany & Co. have commented on the claims of appropriation that Basquiat’s contemporaries have levied. "Equals Pi" will permanently hang at Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store in Fifth Avenue, New York.

With Tiffany & Co.'s ad featuring a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that uses their iconic Tiffany Blue color, criticism from the art world has mounted as many see this as a misunderstanding of his art. This is a representational image. __ drz __/Unsplash.

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