In 1986, the year before his death, Andy Warhol painted a portrait of Barbie in the style of his famous paintings of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and so many other celebrities. But in Warhol's mind, it wasn't a painting of the doll but rather his dear friend BillyBoy*, a 23-year-old jewelry designer who had a collection of tens of thousands of Barbies. For an art exhibit, BillyBoy*'s dolls were dressed by famous fashion designers and he also designed two dolls for Mattel, "Le Nouveau Theatre De La Mode" and "Feelin' Groovy Barbie."
Warhol had asked to paint a portrait of BillyBoy*, who always declined, until one day he said, "Well if you really want to do my portrait, do a portrait of Barbie because Barbie, c'est moi." So Warhol did.
Last year, BillyBoy* sold his Barbie portrait at Christie's for more than $1 million. He's also turned his back on Barbie.
"I think Barbie is no longer touching on the zeitgeist of the moment," he told the BBC News. "If I had a daughter I would not give her Barbie dolls. I wouldn't want my child to be constantly obsessed with getting something, and that immense preoccupation with high-heeled shoes and clothes."