Julian Sidebottom was born in Clapham London and changed his name to Olaf Arsoff while still a student at the Slade School of Art. He was expelled in his first year for alleged non-attendance and heroin addiction. His flatmate at the time said of him.
"Julian was the most self-centred, greedy, slithering bastard I have ever met. I could not leave anything of mine within reach of him that had any value; he would simply nick it. He would have stolen the pennies off his dead granny's eyes. What a tosser! I cannot for the life of me understand how he got famous because he couldn't draw an egg if his life depended on it, never mind how on earth he was awarded an OBE for services to art. What I remember of Sidebottom was a vulpine lout trying to shag whatever drunken female could not get past him on the stairs. May he rest in peace."
For the next three years after leaving The Slade Olaf's whereabouts are unknown until he suddenly emerges with his first one-man show in Coventry's Masonic Hall. The show was a complete sell-out and made headlines in all the mainstream UK newspapers.
It was rumoured that "Saatchi & Saatchi" had bought the entire show but this was vehemently denied by their lawyers Schillings. "The assertion that our clients could have had anything whatever to do with the Coventry exhibition, is false, unsubstantiated and unverifiable", they stated, in big, bold letters in faxes to editors all over the UK.
Olaf then had shows in the Tate, the MOMA in New York, the Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Prado Madrid, all to rave reviews. His works fetched enormous sums, especially his famous "Diamond Encrusted Turd" that sold recently for over twenty million dollars to a Japanese food business consortium.
Thereafter however, controversy surrounded his works. His style became puzzling, contradictory, ranging from high Photorealism to Ma Moses Naif. It was even rumoured that he had hired others to do his paintings for him in the tradition of his good friend Andy Warhol.
Although established as a leading figurative artist, when asked to do a portrait of Madonna with whom he was alleged to have had an affair, the result was so incompetent nobody could believe it was painted by the same man. Art critics who were not Freemasons scratched their heads in disbelief before eventually deciding that "Olaf Arsoff is breaking new ground with his Naif Period."
Through his agent, Hoover Twitz Olaf explained, paraphrasing his idol Pablo Picasso...
"I have spent many years trying to paint like a child, and I now think I am beginning at last to make a little progress."
An interview Olaf gave to Playboy Magazine in which he stated he had been born in Sarajevo and had experienced many horrors there including the killing of his first wife Misha was proven to have been total lies. Said his literary agent Hore.B.Still;
"The fictionalized biography which he later called a "Bioficto" is now considered a "seminal work". It was "a Postmodernist journey into subliminal subtexts, half fiction, half factoidal reconfiguration, but infused throughout with trans-conceptual inspirational annotations," announced Mr. Still.
"People just thought he was lying."
"Yes,... I know. What else would they think? The genius is always ahead of his times."
The book was subsequently removed from the shelves and was seen no more. The remaining one hundred or so copies said to be in existence are the property of Saatchi & Saatchi. A signed copy recently went on sale at Sotheby's and fetched a record ten million dollars for a book of only thirty three pages.
Olaf's controversial work of the "Blessed Virgin Mary Gang-Raped by Smelly Pot-Bellied Muslims" caused great controversy. The work got headlines all over the world. As no editor had the nerve to publish an image of the painting it gathered more and more mystery, and so did Olaf. Paparazzi laid siege to his castle in the Loire Valley. A Fatwah was placed on him that was shortly afterwards lifted after an intervention by the Pope.
"The worst weekend I ever spent," said Olaf.
The famous television broadcast of Olaf in a hoody under dim lights in which he refused to answer a single question seized the public's imagination. On Youtube it went viral. Were his thoughts too deep for words?, everybody wondered. Was he a mystic? Was he God's messenger? Did he have secret, private conversations with Bob Dylan? Nobody knew.
Having recently read the authorized biography of the great man I decided to call on its author Albert Spike.
Albert is known as a well known art critic of great acclaim, an advisor to the Arts Council of Great Britain and runs his own "Con-Sheeple Gallery" in Kensington. He is a tall, gaunt, elegant figure, a famous scholar, writer and bridge player with obvious charisma and a well honed Oxford accent. He is rumoured to be a reformed alcoholic and a close friend of Christopher Little and Barry Cunningham, founder and first editor of the Harry Potter series respectively,
"How do you explain Olaf's meteoric rise to stardom?" I asked him. "Do you think that the time he ran naked through the Vatican during High Mass on Christmas Day 2008 had anything to do with it?"
"Possibly. But that was Olaf. To my mind, that was one of his very great art performances. A poignant piece."
"Some say he was just out of his skull on Chianti. I believe you were with him at the time."
"Jealousy is an ugly emotion."
"How do you explain the high quality film footage of the event?"
"Oh, some tourist just happened to be there at the time with a camera. It was Christmas after all."
"And his greatest performance piece?"
"Possibly during the Queens eighty-fifth... when he shit on Her Majesty's birthday cake... just as she was getting ready to cut it. The Queen thankfully caught the meaning of the performance immediately and smiled benignly before retiring."
"He was a regular visitor to the palace."
"Oh yes, very regular."
"And the cake was salvaged and won him the Turner Prize for that year?"
"Yes. Some friends persuaded him to submit it... and, of course, it won. We were very surprised. A great accolade, not to be sniffed at. It was titled... as I recall... "A Postmodernist Meditation". "Snot on a Postage Stamp" was favourite for that year. Personally I think "Snot" should have won it as a salient reminder to us all of the ephemeral nature of existence."
"Most of us have had deaths in our family as well as personal misfortunes, do you really think we need a reminder?"
"One must look to the work."
"And which of Olaf's pieces would you say is his best?"
""Pyramid With Eye of Horus", most definitely, a ground-breaking work. Mick Jagger offered me ten million for it. I refused."
'Then there was the episode when he allegedly shot his girlfriend dead."
"Yes well, the media made a field day of that... thank.... I mean... most regrettably. He had placed an apple on her head during a party and was showing off with his pistol. He really had had too much to drink. I should have intervened. Something I regret. He often used a revolver in his performance pieces. It had been given to him by Tony Blair. The judge at the Old Bailey very rightly returned a verdict of misadventure."
"The sales of his work went through the roof after that. Especially the drawings he made during the two weeks he was in prison. Can you tell us something about that?"
"Yes, the experience of prison had a dreadful effect on Olaf. For instance, he never showered from the day of his release from incarceration until the day of his unfortunate death. But the sojourn did help him get back on track."
"So what exactly prompted you to write his story, Mister Spike, which as we know has become a global best seller with a foreword by no less a figure than J.K.Rowling?"
"His suicide of course. He was a loyal brother and a very misunderstood artist. I have a large collection of his works. In fact, just recently, we discovered some new work of his on a wall of a pub in Rome. We are having the entire wall shipped to the Tate. The European Parliament has been of enormous help to us. Simply wonderful, and most unexpected."
Olaf Arsoff died last week when the car he was driving spun out of control on Blackfriars Bridge and plunged into the Thames killing all six of his passengers including himself. Hours before the tragedy he had tweeted to his friend, transvestite Miss Gene Pool that "tonight will be my greatest performance piece. I can hardly wait to sink myself right into it. Olaf Arsoff will be remembered forever, not as a suicidal, procured, fucked-up whore of Freemasonry like all the rest, but as a real artist."
Arsoff is now acknowledged as Britain's 'greatest' artist of the last century. Oddly, no critic has come forth to question the claim. The prices of his paintings have quadrupled. And his biography is set to become a Hollywood Blockbuster starring Brad Pitt as the "tormented genius" and Danny DeVito as his agent.