Collectible Vinyl

Madonna – Like a virgin, test press (Alternate cover – $8100)

On August 2008, an eBay seller from Italy listed Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” vinyl record, which had a unique hand-painted cover. The seller appeared not to know exactly what was in his hands or pretended not to know, for reasons we will mention later. But those who were interested in buying this vinyl record knew very well what it was about. This vinyl record was sold for 8.100 dollars a price that may be very low.

On August 4, 2008, an Italian ebay seller uploaded a listing, selling a Madonna record, on eBay. He bought it together with other records at Utrecht Record Fair, by an American seller. When He bought it, he didn’t know what it was, because there were no obvious signs that it was Madonna’s vinyl record, but he was astonished by the fantastic cover. A cover that he has never seen before.

He asked the seller for information about the vinyl record, but the seller told him that the record belonged to his sister and he didn’t have any more information.

When he returned to Italy he played the vinyl and immediately understood that it was the “like a virgin ” of Madonna. He asked some of his friends about information, but no one knew anything.

A piece of the text that was posted on the listing of the disc on eBay was as follows: “The cover is absolutely a HAND MADE COVER with a strange painting on the front, the back shows only the center painted by black with the writing J. M. Basquiat (probably the name of the artist) plus some strange graffitis. “

Who was Jean-Michel_Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a cultural icon, graffiti artist, musician, and painter. These days Basquiat is among the most expensive artists in the world. His images are franchised and replicated everywhere. From cups, skateboards to Reebok shoes

Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960, in Brooklyn, New York. He first attracted attention for his graffiti under the name “SAMO” in New York City. He sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets before his painting career took off.

In the decade of 1980, he made exhibitions in international museums and galleries around the world, while he became known as Expresser of primitive neo-expressionism. In 1983 he began to perform individual exhibitions and at the same time met with pop-art mentor Andy Warhol, a relationship that lasted until Warhol’s death. In 1988 Basquiat died of a heroin overdose. 

Basquiat had also a hand in producing a hip hop record called “beat bop”. It was released in 1983 and only 500 copies were made. Beat Bop is one of the rarest pieces of hip hop history.

Today Basquiat has become a cultural reference for greatness amongst hip hop artists. You can find references to him in lyrics from JAY Z, Nas, Lil Wayne, Swizz Beatz, and Kanye West 

Basquiat’s love affair with Madonna

The very interesting thing here is that Jean Michel Basquiat and Madonna had a brief relationship in 1982. It was a time when Basquiat was a known artist and Madonna a rising singer before making her first appearance in the music industry with her first album in 1983 titled after her name. The couple broke up the same year. But their relations were kept at a friendly level. There are photos of Jean-Michel Basquiat at Madonna’s Like a Virgin record release party in New York City on November 12, 1984, as well as an after-party for The Virgin Tour in New York City on June 6, 1985, taken by Andy Warhol himself.

So it’s very likely that this test press copy was a record that Madonna herself gave Basquiat as a gift and the artist made his cover. 

Let’s say here that when we talk about test press vinyl records we mean a small quantity of vinyl usually 5-to-10 printed by the record cutting plant just before the record is mass-produced. The purpose of this small cut is to check the quality of the sound and therefore usually has no covers or anything else printed on it. Usually, these copies are taken by the producer, the company and the artist.

If it is an authentic work of Basquiat, which we think it is, it would be very interesting to learn the path of this record. How it arrived from the cutting plant in the hands of Basquiat and from there in the hands of the seller at the Utrecht Record Fair.

This vinyl record was auctioned on April 8th of 2008 on eBay titled “MADONNA Like a Virgin ALTERNATE COVER MINT” without the seller mentioning anything about Basquiat. Here I think one of the following two things happened. 

One, that the seller didn’t know who Basquiat was, which I don’t think happened because quite simply with a Google search he could find information about the artist. or

 Second, Which I think is more likely, since there was no guarantee that the cover was painted by Basquiat himself, the seller did not want to risk being exposed or facing problems from the family of the artist who manages his brand financially.

 After 56 bids the record was sold for 8100 dollars.

All these events combine for a very interesting story and it would also be interesting to know how much this vinyl would eventually be sold if all this information was known. I believe that the record was sold at a very low price and that the winner of the auction acquired this piece of art at a bargain price. And if it seems excessive to you that the 8100 dollars are a small amount, I would remind you that in 2017 a Basquiat painting painted in 1982 was sold at auction for 110,5 million dollars. 


  • $8100  (56 bids) – 2008-08-05 ( Cover: NM | Media: NM / Seller from Italy )

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