UPDATED: Jimmy Kimmel is denying now that he spent more than $1.9 million to buy an infamous nude portrait of the late Bea Arthur just so he could give it as a gift to his friend, comedian Jeffrey Ross. Friday on Twitter, Ross “announced” that Kimmel bought the 1991 painting and gave it to him. Ross even posted a photo of the artwork (seen here in this post). But Kimmel, who first went along with the apparent “joke,” refuted the story in a subsequent tweet. “Contrary to ‘news’ reports,” Kimmel wrote, “I didn’t buy the Bea Arthur painting – not even for [Jeffrey Ross] – but I did buy the Mona Lisa Lampanelli!”
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PREVIOUSLY: Well, that’s one mystery solved.
Last week, a painting up for auction at Christie’s grabbed a lot of headlines, namely a nude Bea Arthur portrait.
The painting was expected to draw bids between $1.8 million and $2.5 million at the auction, before finally selling for $1,915,750. However, the buyer remained anonymous, at least until today.
Comedian Jeffrey Ross broke the news, after receiving the picture as a gift from the buyer. He immediately took to Twitter to thank his benefactor, writing “Biggest surprise of my life. Thank you @jimmykimmel – the most generous guy in the world!”
Having been outed, Jimmy Kimmel replied back.
“@realjeffreyross Bea is watching over all of us, but especially you,” he wrote.
“Amen, brother,” said Ross.
The connection between Ross and Arthur is this: At a Friars Club roast in New York in 1999 (where the honoree was Jerry Stiller), Ross made an extremely off-color joke at Arthur’s expense (she was in the audience) that became one of the most infamous lines in the history of these roasts. He has said in interviews that the line made his career.