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My First Piece of Art: Chloë Sevigny

The actress—whose first book, an eponymous tome chronicling her style, is out from Rizzoli this spring—tells of a painting she loved and lost

 “It’s kind of a tragic story. It was the 1990s and I was living on Prince and Crosby streets, and 303 Gallery was in the neighborhood. I’d always go around and look at all the art in SoHo in the different galleries, and that’s when I started seeing some of Karen Kilimnik’s work around. Lisa Spellman was showing her and she had this painting, The Great Hamptons Fire, in the back room in her office. It was also on the flyer for the show.

There was a lot of art I wanted to buy back then, but I was really gun-shy because I didn’t have a lot of money. I remember seeing the Felix Gonzalez-Torres puzzles and his gallerist saying, ‘Oh, you can do the layaway plan.’ Now, of course, I’m kicking myself for not doing it. Anyway, I was really obsessed with this painting, which is of Amber Valetta in a Jil Sander ad photographed by Craig McDean. The whole thing was kind of perfect for me: the lightness of this bright, blonde, beautiful girl and a menacing fire in the background. So I went for it, I bought it. It was a big deal for me to buy my first painting, and then the ICA in London wanted to borrow it for a show, and I felt really big and important.  

I was living at the time with Harmony Korine, but then he moved up to Connecticut, and I hung it in his house because he had a great art collection and more people would go over there and appreciate it than if it was in my bedroom. After that there was an accident at his house; there was a fire, and the painting burned. The Great Hamptons Fire burned in a fire in Rowayton, Connecticut. It’s so creepy. So that’s it. It’s gone forever. I still have the flyer for the show at 303 Gallery, but that’s all I have. And I’ve never bought a painting since.”