A painting of Bea Arthur in her birthday suit was sold as much as $1.9 million on Wednesday, May 15 in a Christie's auction, New York Post reported. Artist John Currin made the painting in 1991. Although the portrait shows Arthur being topless, the "Golden Girl" star never sat in that condition in front of the painter. According to Christie's, Currin drew it based on his imagination from a picture of the sitcom star.
Currin has made many paintings which depict women in a provocative pose or in skimpy clothing. As consequence, some critics reportedly urged people to boycott Currin's shows in 1990s. The "Bea Arthur Naked" also garnered hot criticism at that time. Critics said that it was sexist and misogynistic.
Others, however, commented that the portrait was a statement of feminism and age. Christie's spokesman Koji Inoue said that the portrait was "visually lasting." He explained, "It's historically significant - it's radical to sexualize someone people think of as asexual. The painting has a visual toughness to it - but it's also fun."
Facebook temporarily banned "Bea Arthur Naked" from the site because of the alleged offensive image. The Daily Beast's Facebook account and other journalists' as well were affected by the artwork. The social media's spokesperson later explained to the editors that Facebook's team mistakenly took the painting as an actual nude woman, which violated the terms. The social networking site reportedly has lifted the ban.
Arthur received Emmy Awards for her roles in 1970s' and 1980's TV shows, "Maude" and "Golden Girls". She passed away in 2009 at the age of 86 because of cancer.