'Dandy in the Underworld' Sebastian Horsley DiesDate: 17 June 2010
Sebastian Horsley, the self-styled dandy, artist and writer, has died aged 47. He was found in his flat this morning by his girlfriend having died from a suspected heroin overdose.
The news comes just two days after the premiere of the play adapted from his memoir of the same name, Dandy in the Underworld at Soho Theatre, which is due to continue until 10 July.
A statement from the show's producers reads: “We are of course reeling from the shock and deeply saddened by the news of Sebastian Horsley's death. We're working out the most appropriate and respectful course of action.”
It is not known at this stage whether his death was linked to the premiere of Dandy in the Underworld, though according to the Evening Standard he said after seeing the play, “I'd rather be crucified again than sit through that. I knew I was obnoxious but I never knew how much.”
He was referring to a notorious episode in 2000 during which he underwent voluntary crucifixion in the Philippines as part of an art project.
Horsley was one of the great Soho characters, having made a fortune on the stock market in the 1980s and, in his own words, “invested 90 percent of my money in prostitutes, the rest on Class A drugs, the remains I squandered”. He endured a turbulent childhood, which was often the focus of his writings, and as well as an artist became well known as a master of the witty aphorism.
In one of his final interviews last month, with spoonfed.co.uk, he said: “It's just a joke, life … It's a whole joke. And given that life is absurd, given that it's pointless, given that it's meaningless; to mirror it with an absurdist dance is in many ways taking up a real position. Dandyism is a ghost dance in the face of defeat.”
Horsley, who was married to Evlynn Smith from 1983 to 1990, may well be immortalised in celluloid - Dandy in the Underworld was optioned last year by Stephen Fry's Sprout Films.