Photo from December by Stacie Joy
According to friends, Billy Miller, a longtime East Village resident, better known as Billy the Artist, died last night.
His friend, the artist Gregory de la Haba, posted this tribute on Instagram:
With heavy heart, the legendary New Yorker, Billy The Artist (William Miller) died peacefully in his sleep last evening at Beth Israel Hospital after succumbing to the ravages of cancer.
He was a tremendous light in my life and always made me smile from ear to ear. He was "Pura Vida" whose art adorned products worldwide from Swatch to Nescafé. His first big gig was to paint panels for the broadway stage of RENT that captured the energy and vibrancy of the East Village, the place he called home for the last 30 years. Collector Steve Cohen recently purchased one of his famous cows and musician John Baptiste enjoyed playing his custom piano. His entire life was dedicated to art. And in sharing in the love.
Rest in peace, my beautiful, beautiful friend.
We'll update you when more information on his passing becomes available.
Billy had created several books in the past two years, most recently last month with "East Village Closed" — a photo illustrative experience of life in the East Village during the pandemic as seen through Billy's eyes.
Billy loved the East Village, where he found the love and inspiration for his work. He will be missed.
There will be a celebration of Billy's life on Feb. 20 at the Long Pour, 155 Second Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street at 3 p.m. Details here.
So, so sad to see this. I've chatted to him for years now. Always so upbeat and so much of his work everywhere
I didnt know him. Sad to read. May he be at piece.
RIP Billy, Give Molly a Big Hug for me.🙏🏻🙏🏻😢🍀
I worked with him years ago. Rest on paradise Billy J.
Very sad to hear this news. Rest in Power, Billy. 💜
What a really nice guy Billy was. Very sad to hear. I used to see him at Swift over the years. RIP Billy.
Very sad to hear this! RIP Billy
I am heartbroken, and in disbelief. Billy and I have been friends and neighbors since he moved in across the hall from me. He was a prolific actor, singer, dancer. One day I saw his little notebook/sketchbook. All black and white drawings. I told him his work reminded me of Keith Haring...I don't think he even knew who that was! I told him he needed to work in color. So, for Christmas, I bought him his first paints and canvas...the rest is history. His was the kindest, gentlest, most optimistic, talented, prolific artist who brought sunshine wherever he went.
Very sad to hear of Billy's passing. I worked alongside Billy painting pianos since 2017 at Sing for Hope. Billy was an East Village legend and quintessential New Yorker. Rest in Peace Billy. Your artwork will live on.
Billy was such a treasure, his loss to all that had the pleasure to know him is immense. I sure that he will be making heaven the most fun and funky place. Rest In Peace Billy 💕💕
Rest easy my friend 🍻
I met Billy when he came to visit family in Mentor and just thought he was the coolest, nicest guy!!!! So sad to hear this. My condolences to his family.
Billy was the boldest of artists.
At Woodstock 99 he took on the most outrageous amount of work, along with buddy, he inspired the whole event.
God bless to a east village legend. Thank you Billy
Billy drank in a bar I worked in for years. A great guy and will be sorely missed by all.
Billy was one of my favorite neighbors for years. What a shame, such a lovely and talented guy. Jillian
Billy was my neighbor, he actually knew me since I was a baby in the building. May he rest in peace
I babysat for Billy and his brother when I was a teenager. I loved the dearly. Billy was adorable and so mischievous! Rest in peace sweet Billy
I was saddened to hear of Billy's passing.I was a good friend of his parents an have known Billy since he was 9 years old .Hea was a great kid and grew up to be a wonderful person and talented artist he will be missed on many levels.
I hopped off of Instagram and FB last year, so did not know of this devastating news until today when someone was in my house and said "WOW" I love his art! I had been writing to him for the past few months with no answer so I googled him today and found out about his passing. Billy was a person full of life and he never mentioned about being ill when I spoke with him last year. I met Billy back in 2017 when I got him to be one of the artists in an exhibit I curated called "Beyond Street Art" in Greenwich, CT. He was such a blast and when he gave an artist talk he filled the gallery space. I will always cherish the moments I'd spent with him during that period of time. Rest in Peace my dear friend.
I met Billy in Shanghai. We became expat friends, attending art events together. I was just starting to show in galleries. He helped me see and think more like an artist.
I saw his name on a bar in the East Village today, which made me think of him and how much fun and growth we experienced.
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