NEW YORK — “I’ve never worked a day in my life,” Rene Ricard, then 32, wrote for The New York Times in 1978. “If I did it would probably ruin my career, which at the moment is something of a cross between a butterfly and a lap dog.”
Mr. Ricard was not being disingenuous, really, though as a poet, an influential art critic and a painter in his own right, perhaps he was selling himself short. He was, however, more a personage than a professional anything, a notorious aesthete who roamed New York’s contemporary art scene with a capacious, autodidactic erudition and a Wildean flamboyance.
He was a member of Andy Warhol’s cohort beginning in the 1960s, appearing in a handful of Warhol’s films (including “The Andy Warhol Story,” in which he played the title role) and an habitué of the Factory, which was a hangout for artists and musicians of the day.
As a partygoer, a weekend guest, and general bon vivant, Mr. Ricard was known for his wickedness and his wit, his astute and perfervid opinions on art and literature, and his commanding conversational skills — even if he did say so himself.
“I honestly don’t need much money,” he wrote in The Times. “People love to buy me drinks. Hostesses love to feed me. Famous artists lavish me with expensive artworks and heiresses do the same with jewels that I promptly lose. The fact of the matter is that if I worked a straight job I wouldn’t have time to do the serious business of my life, which is to amuse and delight, giving my rich friends a feeling of largesse, my poor friends a sense of high life, and myself a true sense of accomplishment for having become a fixture and a rarity in this shark-infested metropolis.”
Mr. Ricard, who lived many years at the Chelsea Hotel, was 67 when he died Saturday. Raymond Foye, his literary executor, said that the cause of death, at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, was unknown but that Mr. Ricard had cancer.
Albert Napoleon Ricard was born in Boston and grew up in Acushnet and New Bedford in Massachusetts. Foye, his literary executor, said Mr. Ricard leaves a brother and a sister.