I happened upon this photograph in an old photo album of mine last night, and it struck me as an odd trio of people to depict in graffiti in the same place: Princess Diana, Mike Tyson, and Tupac Shakur. The location was somewhere on the Lower East Side in October 1997, and it reflects some of the news of that time: On August 31, 1997, Princess Diana died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France, while being chased by paparazzi. And so the graffiti artist has memorialized her with a depiction of the press surrounding her like a pack of wolves.
The middle image of Mike Tyson, which reads “If you can’t beat ‘m, eat’m,” refers to Mike Tyson’s fight with Evander Holyfield on June 28, 1997, in which Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear. The third image, far right, shows rapper Tupac Shakur with the words “Live by the Gun, Die by the Gun,” which refers to Tupac’s death. On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was taken to the Southern Nevada University Medical Center, where he died six days later.
Even with the explanation of the history behind these images, it’s still an odd trio of personalities!