Frank Ocean’s stairway to heaven. The spiral staircase. Around 140 hours of Ocean’s sweat. The stairway out of Frank’s contract with Def Jam. The staircase to nowhere. Some 20 plywood boxes, stacked on top of each other.
When Frank Ocean’s 45-minute stream Endless appeared on his website—a black-and-white video where the artist builds a spiral staircase from scratch in a bare warehouse—all anyone could talk about was that staircase, and what it meant.
Now those items have been thoroughly dissected, fans are beginning to wonder again: what happened to the staircase?
Will it be sold for a profit, displayed, dismantled? Or perhaps fitted at Frank’s house?
New York-based artist Tom Sachs was an obvious place to start.
He helped Frank with the build, it was his boombox sitting in the corner of the workshop in the stream, and it was he who spoke at length to Pitchfork about the meaning of what he called the “stairway to heaven.”
Sachs recently displayed his boomboxes at the Brooklyn Museum—could Frank’s staircase be displayed there, too?
A phone call to the Tom Sachs Studio gleaned that the staircase was categorically not at the studio at 245 Centre Street, New York. Any further questions would have to be directed to Frank Ocean’s people.
Frank’s people were contacted. Requests from the shoot’s assistant editor, the director of photography, and the video effects guy yielded no initial reply, or a simple response to the effect of, “Sorry, I signed a nondisclosure agreement.”
Later, Sachs would email to advise that he wasn’t sure what was next for the staircase.
A phone call to Paper Mache Monkey, the art department that worked on the shoot, was polite, but unhelpful.
A spokesman said he was not able to talk about the staircase, and we would have to go through Frank’s people to get sign-off for him to talk.
We phoned the construction company TMG—listed on the Endless credits under "set construction"—and finally started to get somewhere. An assistant wasn’t sure, but she thought the staircase may have been dismantled.
She put me on to TMG partner Martin Lazor.
Lazor was similarly hesitant to talk about the staircase without sign-off from Frank’s management, Three Six Zero, but was able to offer a few clues.
Firstly, the staircase was not discarded. It was taken to a workshop, he could not say where.
Secondly, and intriguingly, Lazor said there may be plans to re-use the staircase for "another application."
While he could not share specific details, he believed there was a concept drawn up to use the staircase in an upcoming installation in Frank’s apartment.
The details were shaky, it appeared to be a display where the staircase spiraled up from a workshop below into Frank’s apartment above.
After we spoke with Lazor, Frank’s management and producer on Endless Wendi Morris came back to us.
She said the staircase is “stored safe, archived for now, along with [Frank’s] other specialty builds/collections.”
When asked about the plans to use the staircase for a display in Frank’s apartment, Morris was tight-lipped.
“Rumors, no plans to discuss,” she said.
So there you have it. Currently, the staircase is being stored in a workshop, along with other Frank Ocean treasures.
But keep an eye out for the staircase in the future—if the rumors are true it may just be appearing again, and potentially at Frank’s house.