Jimi Hendrix’s Ming Dynasty Chinese Buddha, From His New York Apartment
A Chinese bronze Buddha from the Ming Dynasty, owned by Jimi Hendrix, from his New York apartment. Acquired directly from Stella Benabou Douglas, one of Jimi Hendrix’s closest friends during the last years of his life. The former wife of record producer and Hendrix archivist Alan Douglas, she appears in the 1973 documentary A Film About Jimi Hendrix. Her relationship with Hendrix has been extensively chronicled.
Stella Douglas and her friend Colette Mimram owned a Greenwich Village shop Hendrix frequented. They designed many of Hendrix’s outfits, including the famous white-fringed turquoise beaded jacket he wore at the Woodstock Festival. (Jimi named their shop “The Nudist Colony” after they rejected his earlier suggestions, “The Fuck You Store” and “Band of Gypsys”.)
Charles H. Cross, in his book Room Full of Mirrors, writes “Collette Mimram and Stella Douglas were both more cultured than Jimi, and he found that appealing along with their fashion sense…With Colette, Stella, and Deering (Howe), Jimi developed his first adult friendships that were outside the music industry…Colette, Stella, Jimi and Deering dined together often, forming a salon of sorts.”
In 1969 Howe and Hendrix flew to Morocco to join Colette and the Moroccan-born Stella for a vacation. Cross wrote “Jimi spent nine days in North Africa, and they were probably the most joyous of his entire life. According to Howe, “It was the best, and maybe the only vacation he had”.
At our request, Stella Douglas filmed an accompanying 15 minute video interview, where she spoke about her close relationship with Jimi Hendrix, and the history of Hendrix’s bronze Buddha and a Moroccan chest that also belonged to him.
In it, Douglas recounts that when she first met Hendrix, he was living in a basement room in the apartment of his manager, Michael Jeffery. It was filled with equipment and guitars, and Stella told him he needed his own apartment. A few days later she found one for him, on West 12th Street, and soon after began to decorate it for him.
She tells of how she was out with Jimi and her then husband Alan when Jimi saw the Buddha in a shop. “Jimi picked it up and caressed his stomach.” It was nearing Hendrix’s birthday, and Alan bought it for him as a birthday gift. “It was such a big thing for Jimi; I don’t think he ever had something old and precious like this. He became very attached to it”.
“One time he asked me why Buddha’s have such a big stomach. I told him it was because they have the whole universe in it. He used to tell other people that…He showed it to people and explained the big stomach story to people, which for him was a bit of a mystery. Of course he wasn’t a Buddhist in any way. He was absolutely colorblind, religion blind, never got involved in politics in any way, contrary to what some people have said.”
Douglas was with Hendrix at a party in London on the night he died. She describes how, upon her return to New York, Hendrix manager Michael Jeffery asked her and Alan Douglas to accompany him to open Jimi’s apartment for the first time. “Of course it was emotional. We saw all those things. My emotions were that I had gotten all these things and decorated the place along with Colette and even Devon (Wilson, a Hendrix girlfriend.) Everything was just tacked up—no frames or anything.”
Stella describes how Jeffery said to Alan “Why don’t you take the Buddha”—as Alan had given it to Jimi, and he said to me ‘Why don’t you take the box (Moroccan chest). But you have to do it fast, because we have to give the apartment back.’”
Alan took the Buddha, and Stella had the chest moved to their apartment. Eventually Alan gave Stella the Buddha as well, and she has kept them for 45 years as treasured mementos of her friend Jimi.
(According to Hendrix biographer and Experience Hendrix executive John McDermott, no photographs of Jimi Hendrix’s New York apartment have ever surfaced. In 1997, the late Alan Douglas, then in charge of the Hendrix archives, wrote a letter of authenticity noting the Buddha and Moroccan chest had belonged to Jimi Hendrix. He anticipated one day Stella might want to sell them, and documentation would be helpful. This letter and a copy of Stella Douglas’ video interview are included.)
9” tall, 7.5” wide, 5.5” deep.
An Asian art consultant identified this as a Chinese bronze figure of Milefo (Budai), from the later Ming period (1368-1644). It has a vertical crack on the back, which might have occurred in the casting process when it was made.
A museum quality Jimi Hendrix artifact, with exceptional provenance. With Recordmecca’s lifetime guarantee of authenticity.
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