by Neometro

57 Great Jones Street, NYC.

Architecture, Design - by Tiffany Jade
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat's final New York apartment at 57 Great Jones Street, NYC. COURTESY MERIDIAN CAPITOL GROUP. PHOTO SYLVESTER ZAWEDZKI

23rd November, 2022

57 Great Jones Street, New York is an address of profound notoriety. Tied to New York’s infamous gangland wars of the early 20th century, the building which was originally designed as stables, was owned by Andy Warhol from 1970 and later rented out to Jean-Michel Basquiat. This month the building hit the rental market.   


Originally built around 1850, the building served as an architect’s office, an auction house, and a furniture store between 1869 and 1901. In 1904, Paul Kelly purchased the stables at 57 Great Jones Street in what is today part of the cities Noho Historic District in Manhattan. He would go on the establish the New Brighton Athletic Club on the premises, a front for the gangland activity which would later famously include Al Capone. He later expanded into 59 Great Jones Street where he established the Little Naples Cafe, feeding and recruiting members of the notorious Five Points Gang. 

The Little Naples Cafe and the New Brighton Athletic Club in 1905.

Following a short-lived time at the centre of gangland significance, 57 Great Jones Street was abandoned by the Five Points Gang following a lengthy gunfight and became a nondescript commercial premises housing a metal works business and a kitchen supplies company.

In 1970, Andy Warhol purchased the 6,600 square foot building where he lived and worked instilling the space with considerable clout in the art world.

The second floor at 57 Great Jones Street, NYC.

Working under the pseudonym SAMO with friend Al Diaz, Jean’s work had been publicly exhibited the year before as part of the PS1 New York/New Wave show after which he became an overnight success and was inevitably introduced to Warhol, famed for taking young artists under his wing, the following year.

57 Great Jones Street today and Venus Over Manhattan next door at 55 Great Jones Street.

Jean rented the loft space in the building from Andy in 1983 and lived and worked there until his death at the tender age of 27 in 1988.
Despite his youth, Jean produced more than 600 paintings and over 1,500 drawings, many made hastily in exchange for rent and the drugs that would eventually be his demise.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s impact on the art world is profound. His visual language resurrected the authenticity of the term avant-garde and challenged notions of what defined art, a heated narrative that grows as time passes and digital and public interfaces continue to emerge. The gravitas of his work and the largess of his personality left an indelible mark on the art world and his last home remains central to his memory. 
Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s legacy has continued to score an artistic relevance within the neighbourhood around 57 Great Jones Street instigating a domino effect which has since seen such imitable galleries as Venus Over Manhattan and Eric Firestone Gallery established nearby.

In 2016, Village Preservation, an architectural conservation society, in conjunction with Two Boots Pizza, installed a plaque on the building’s exterior commemorating Jean, reading, “Basquiat’s paintings and other work challenged established notions of high and low art, race and class, while forging a visionary language that defied characterization.”

It is believed that the current custodians of the building, Meridian Capitol Group, hope to keep it within the art world so the future of its significance, with a rental price tag of $US60,000p/month will be fascinating to watch pan out. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol in 1984 Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images



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