In the online kerfuffle, three significant aspects of the ad campaign have been largely skipped over. Those being:
1. Tiffany & Co's (undoubtedly gargantuan, but currently unknown) payment to Bey and Jay for the campaign also involves a $2 million donation for scholarship and internship programs at HBCUs.
2. Tiffany's has purchased Equals Pi and plans to display it in their flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York once it has completed renovations. Which means the world will finally be able to see it, and in a place that doesn't charge an entrance fee.
3. Beyoncé is the first Black woman to ever wear the 128.54 carat Tiffany Diamond. Only three other women have ever been permitted to wear it: Mary Whitehouse, Audrey Hepburn and Lady Gaga.
All of which are, quantifiably, very good things.
Would it have been more ideal for people to first see this painting in a way that didn't involve also trying to sell jewelry? Of course. Should Jay-Z think about getting his own hairdo? Maybe. Does it feel weird to see Basquiat's work being used in this way? That's up to you, but given that one of his closest collaborators in life was Andy Warhol—the person most responsible for blending high art with commercialism in the first place—it's hard to imagine he'd mind very much. Are we all going to be sick to death of this ad campaign in six months' time? Oh, you betcha. (Beyoncé is even going to sing "Moon River" to Jay-Z at some point, so ... that's happening.)
Truthfully, if anything in this whole campaign is ripe for mockery, it's the completely unfounded assertions that Tiffany & Co. have been making about Equals Pi's turquoise background. “We don’t have any literature that says [Basquiat] made the painting for Tiffany," executive vice president of products and communications, Alexandre Arnault, told WWD. "My guess is that the [blue painting] is not by chance. The color is so specific that it has to be some kind of homage."
If we could get a collective Twitter eyeroll for that, that'd be marvelous.