Jay Z Marina Abramović Picasso Baby Controversy Large
Jay Z Marina Abramović Picasso Baby Controversy Large

Jay Z Immersed In Art-Rap Controversy Over "Picasso Baby" Music Video

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

UPDATE:Maria Abramović's institute has released a letter clarifying that Jay Z did in fact make a donation following "Picasso Baby." The artist herself was reportedly not notified of the payment, and the institute has apologized to both parties.

2013's Magna Carta Holy Grail saw Jay Z reaching for lofty, high-art recognition in his rhymes (just look at the record's name, after all). From raps about fine wines to paparazzi confessions, Hov swung for the fences and landed in the lap of first-world luxury set that kicks back nightly to gaze at walls lined with priceless pieces. He even rapped about owning Rothkos on album cut "Picasso Baby." Then, he tapped the world famous, highly-regarded performance artist Marina Abramović for the "Picasso Baby" video, using her famous The Artist is Present exhibition as inspiration for a 6 hour performance of the song, attended by everyday fans and famous figures alike, ultimately cutting it into a 9 minute mini-film.

In exchange for her input and artistic blessing, Abramović was to receive a sizable donation from Hov's camp, and in a new interview with Spike Art Magazine, the artist claims the check never came. "The day before, he came to my office and I gave him an entire power point presentation and said: okay, you can help me, because I really need help to build this thing. Then he just completely used me," Abramović said. "And that wasn’t fair."

Abramović called the video collaboration a "one-way transaction," asserting that the donation Jay Z had promised to give her institute never materialized. "I was really naive in this kind of world," she said. "It was really new to me, and I had no idea that this would happen. It’s so cruel, it’s incredible."

Numerous outlets picked up the story yesterday, running headlines asserting that Jay Z took advantage of Abramović, riding "Picasso Baby" and its wave of press to both heightened exposure and profit. But in a new article, Artnet reports that the donation, in fact, did take place.

The "Picasso Baby" producer (and noted art dealer) Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn read part of a receipt aloud to Artnet, quoting its unique confirmation number and a “Thank you for your donation," message from Abramović's institute. Who are we to believe? The truth, like performance art itself, seems open to interpretation.