A Paris museum is celebrating the legacy of Liberace, the pianist, showman, and longtime Las Vegas headliner who pioneered bling 60 years ago.
The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris opens an exhibit this week featuring jewelry, costumes and a crystal-encrusted grand piano owned by Liberace, who died in 1987.
The exhibit, Medusa: Jewelry and Taboos, “represents an important milestone in the recognition of the influence of Las Vegas on the world stage,” according to a statement from the Las Vegas-based Liberace Foundation, which loaned some of its collection of Liberace artifacts to the French museum.
“Liberace is seen as very much impactful on jewelry in general. Jewelry design since he first burst onto the scene, especially in the 1970s, that is featured as a major turning point in the history of jewelry in the world,” said Jonathan Warren the chairman of the Liberace Foundation.
Warren also noted that the late showman was extremely impactful on an unlikely form of music: hip-hop.
"They wanted to feature it because it recognized as being the harbinger of hip-hop jewelry later on,” he said of the museum curators.
Warren said Liberace started the big coats, the big rings, the over-top-living that is a common theme in hip-hop. Some of the items featured in the exhibit include his piano ring and candelabra ring along with a giant topaz pinky ring Liberace designed himself. There is also a Tiffany's pocket watch with a real and fake backstory that is all Liberace.
The Wisconsin-born Władziu Valentino Liberace rocketed to fame in the 1950s thanks to his dazzling piano skills, extravagant costumes, charm, and the new medium of television. He was the world’s highest-paid entertainer during his heyday and the first artist with a Las Vegas residency.
Jonathan Warren, Liberace Foundation chairman