Obituary : Artist Billy Apple, ‘one of the genuine greats’, dies aged 85

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Billy Apple Death: Obituary – Billy Apple a New Zealand has reportedly died at the age of 85, following a short sickness.

His cause of death as of now is still known as short illness.

Billy is one of the most celebrated and significant visual artists in New Zealand. He is also an Arts Foundation and Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.


His art is held in major private and public collections, like, Tate Britain, Chrysler Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, Scottish National Galleries of Modern Art, and in Te Papa Tongarewa.

Billy was originally known as Barrie Bates born in 1935 in Auckland. In 1959, he left Aotearoa to study graphic design at the Royal College of Art in London.

After his graduation in 1962, he changed his name to Billy Apple in a self-branding exercise, he then moved to New York City.


Billy was said to marry his partner of recent, according to Hamish McKay of Wellington’s Hamish McKay Gallery.

McKay said: “Conceptually rigorous, his attention to detail was astonishing, Billy could be demanding when presenting an exhibition, but once you understood what was required and got on with it, he was an easy collaborator, the results were always nothing short of world-class.”

“Billy somehow combined an absolute rigor and fastidiousness with generosity and wicked sense of humor. He could be amazingly tough to work with – he expected the best. But if he recognized that’s what you were trying to achieve, he repaid you with deep respect and friendship,” Byrt an Art writer and critic Anthony said.

“Another artist once said to me that the real mark of greatness is how much someone makes possible for the people who follow them. By that measure, Billy was one of the genuine greats. Contemporary art in New Zealand wouldn’t have been the same without him.