The original, phoenix-fucking cover for Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy—the one that Kanye briefly rent his digital garments over its being “banned” by a shadowy entity known only as “they”—has been revealed to be nothing more than a publicity stunt, to the surprise of anyone who didn’t read the Internet during the hours immediately following that announcement. The New Yorker interviewed George Condo, the artist behind both the original, mythical bestiality cover and its more sanitized follow-ups, during which Condo came clean about the scandal-that-wasn’t:

A couple of weeks before my first visit to Condo's studio, Kanye West, the rapper, asked him to do a painting for the cover of his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West said that he had seen paintings by Condo, and wanted to collaborate with him. According to Condo, he also said that he was looking for "something that will be banned."

West came to Condo's studio, where for several hours they listened to tapes of his music, and over the next few days Condo made eight or nine paintings. Two of them were portraits of West, one in extreme closeup, with mismatched eyes and four sets of teeth. Another showed his head, crowned and decapitated, placed sideways on a white slab, impaled by a sword. There was also a painting of a dyspeptic ballerina in a black tutu, a painting of the crown and the sword by themselves in a grassy landscape, and a lurid scene of a naked black man on a bed, straddled by a naked white female creature with fearsome features, wings, no arms, and a long, spotted tail. West chose that one.

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Damn girl, who taught you how to manufacture controversy to force the entertainment news cycle to discuss the details of your album months before it was even released and shit? [via Vulture]