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The Fascinating FBI Files of 10 Cultural Icons

The Internet is a surveillance state. We’re steadily finding out that there are more people tracking our whereabouts than we ever thought possible. For celebrities and cultural icons, this invasion of privacy isn’t anything new. The FBI has investigated the lives of popular personalities and great thinkers for decades, often without reason — as in the case of Charles Bukowski, which Open Culture discovered this week. These famous files are filled with intimate and absurd details that often read like the headlines of a gossip column. See what dirt the Bureau has dished up over the years, below.

warhol

Andy Warhol

“All of the male individuals had long hair,” reads a page from Andy Warhol’s FBI file, dated 1968. The feds were tracking the pop artist during the filming of his “hippy western,” Lonesome Cowboys. Agents were sent to the set for an “interstate transportation of obscene matter investigation,” but walked away seeing nothing other than a naked Viva (former Factory girl). The FBI missed their mark, because several months later Valerie Solanas shot and almost killed Warhol at his studio.