Rags to Riches: The Madonna Story You Never Knew

By Jack Ripley | January 10, 2024

She Had An Ugly Break-Up With Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1982

Welcome to a visual journey of the Material Girl! From her religious start in Michigan, to the gritty streets of New York City, to the dazzling heights of pop royalty, this electrifying photo gallery charts the meteoric rise and lasting legacy of the one and only Madonna. Prepare to be mesmerized as you witness the evolution of an icon who defied convention, broke boundaries, and redefined the world of music and fashion. Get ready to strike a pose and join us in celebrating the Queen of Pop's extraordinary journey.

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In the early 1980s, before Madonna became the Material Girl we all know and love, she was an aspiring dancer and singer making her way in New York City. During this time, she crossed paths with Jean-Michel Basquiat, a charismatic and influential artist who was at the forefront of the Neo-Expressionism movement. In a city teeming with artistic expression, the pair reportedly dated for a brief period. During this time, Basquiat's art was beginning to receive significant attention, while Madonna was still working her way up the ladder in the music industry. Sadly, though, this power couple relationship was not meant to last. According to the Material Girl herself, they broke up due to Basquiat's substance abuse issues, and he destroyed the paintings he had made for her: 

He wouldn’t stop doing heroin. He was an amazing man and deeply talented, I loved him. When I broke up with him he made me give [the paintings he gave me] back to him. And then he painted over them black.

Madonna Was A Straight-A Student, 1970's

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Throughout her school years, Madonna always got great grades! She attended St. Frederick's and St. Andrew's Catholic Elementary Schools, then West Middle School, and Rochester Adams High School, with straight A's all the way through. She said:

I wasn't rebellious in a certain way. I cared about being good at something. I didn't shave my underarms and I didn't wear make-up like normal girls do. But I studied and I got good grades... I wanted to be somebody.