Forty-one years later, Margo Feiden finally opened a folder containing a manuscript that had sat on her bookshelf since the day Andy Warhol was shot.
She put it there after spending three hours with Valerie Solanas, who was on the fringes of Warhol’s circle. Ms. Solanas had written a play with an unprintable title and had shown up, uninvited, at Ms. Feiden’s apartment, unkempt and irrational, hoping to talk her into producing it.
Ms. Feiden, who later became an art dealer and the agent for the caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, said in a recent interview that she told Ms. Solanas she would not stage it. Solanas countered, “Oh, yes you will, because I’m going to shoot Andy Warhol.”
A few hours later, around 4 p.m. on June 3, 1968, she did.
Ms. Feiden said that Ms. Solanas had handed her the folder around noon. She said, " Ms. Solanas pulled out a gun as she left her apartment and repeated that she intended to shoot Mr. Warhol. “I told her, ‘You don’t want to do that; don’t go kill him."
As Ms. Solanas was gone, Feiden said, she made any number of telephone calls to people who could have warned Warhol. She did not know how to reach him directly but called a cousin, who knew Warhol. She said she also dialed her local police precinct house; Police Headquarters in Manhattan; and the City Hall office of the mayor at the time, John V. Lindsay. No one called back. She put the folder on her bookshelf and kept quiet out of concern for the safety of her daughter, then 18 months old. Her concern deepened with testimony at Ms. Solanas’s trial that suggested Ms. Solanas’s motivation for the shooting was that Warhol had misplaced or lost a copy of the play. (In 1980, Warhol wrote that he had “looked through it briefly, and it was so dirty” that he suspected Ms. Solanas was working for the police on “some kind of entrapment.”)
Ms. Feiden decided to set the record straight after watching a public television documentary that said Ms. Solanas had been at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan on the morning of the shooting. “That’s not the way it was, she was with me all that morning. She left my living room with a gun with the stated purpose of shooting Andy Warhol.”
Ms. Feiden remembered the folder, which she put on the shelf that afternoon. Inside were about 30 mimeographed pages — 30 pages that John McWhinney, a Manhattan manuscript dealer, said were not in two other copies of Ms. Solanas’s play that he has sold. “It’s either a continuation or it’s something that Valerie was working on, a script that was yet to be titled,” he said.
Stuart Pivar, who founded the New York Academy of Art with Warhol and became a close friend of his, said Ms. Feiden’s account “seems to ring true in every single thing that she says.” He also said that he hoped the play, with the extra 30 pages, would be produced. Feiden is stuck between the answer she gave Ms. Solanas — no way — and yes. “But then she’d be getting exactly what she wanted by shooting him, so I’m on a seesaw."
She still hasn't read those 30 pages.
-James Barron ("A Manuscript, a Confrontation, a Shooting," New York Times, City Blog, 6.23.09. Image: