ST. PETERSBURG — They say there’s always a Tampa Bay connection, and pop mega-star Madonna is apparently not immune.
The 55-year-old singer may be the top-selling female recording artist of all time, but a collection of sketches and photographs up for sale at Myers Fine Art and Antiques Auction Gallery, near Crescent Lake, gives a glimpse of her from before she ever stepped onto a stage.
The collection once belonged to Martin Burgoyne, Madonna’s best friend and roommate in the early 1980s, before she became famous. His parents live in the Tampa Bay area. An artist, designer and Studio 54 DJ, Burgoyne designed the album cover for early Madonna release “Burning Up.” He died of AIDS in 1986 at 23.
The collection includes his sketches of Madonna, some candid photos of the two together — at least one of which was purportedly taken by Andy Warhol — and other memorabilia.
“It shows the friendship of Madonna and Martin, which is really important,” gallery co-owner Mary Dowd said. “They had both gone through a lot of hard times, Madonna especially, and he was there for her.”
The images portray a time when the two shared a tattered, graffiti-coated Manhattan apartment as they struggled for recognition and scrounged to pay the rent against the backdrop of New York City’s flourishing early 1980s art scene. He helped her recover in the aftermath of a rape, and she took care of him as his disease wore on.
There were some good times, too. They partied with Warhol and Keith Haring, who also have pieces in the collection, and Burgoyne managed Madonna’s first tour. Most of the photos show Madonna from before her astronomical success, when she was just a regular young woman, albeit an unusually ambitious one, trying to make it in the big city.
“I think what’s really kind of neat is now Madonna has become such a pop icon, and she’s so huge, but these photographs of her with her goofy expression and just hanging out and having a good time with Martin, they humanize her,” Dowd said.
The set of images contrasts the mega-celebrity she is today.
“You see her in a way that I don’t see her today. She’s very far removed from any kind of contact,” Dowd said.
The auction is at noon Feb. 9. The gallery will take bids in person at 1600 Fourth St. N., online, and by phone.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.