Baird Jones, the 53-year-old art and media gadfly, was found dead in his West 19th Street apartment by EMS workers last week, after authorities were alerted to possible problems by Jones’ good friend Ken Emerson, the great-great-grandson of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In life, Jones referred to himself as “the most famous man in New York,” and the case could be reasonably argued. Jones had a clip file of his name appearing in the major newspapers and magazines, with citations numbering in the thousands. In an obsessive, stalker-esque quest for any kind of celebrity quotes or pictures, the Zelig-like man-about-town attended parties six nights a week for more than 35 years. His art collection represented his leanings, featuring celebrity pieces that numbered in the hundreds. Hanging on the walls of his 2,000-square-foot downtown loft are a Warhol and a Haring, side by side with the ghoulish works of his darker sub-collection of works by John Wayne Gacey, Jack Kevorkian, Ed Gein, Leni Reifenstall, Adolf Hitler, and more.