• Phoebe Fairweather, 23, was stepdaughter of late artist John Chamberlain
• She jumped to her death from elite 800 5th Avenue in New York yesterday
• Left family's Shelter Island home in June and appeared at NY apartment
• Told family she was being watched by the FBI and had a device in her chest
By JAMES DUNN FOR MAILONLINE
The stepdaughter of a famous New York sculptor has jumped to her death from the 16th floor of her family's luxury apartment.
Phoebe Fairweather, 23, was spotted by passers-by with her legs hanging off the balcony on 5th Avenue yesterday before jumping and landing in the property's garden.
She is the stepdaughter of the late New York artist John Chamberlain, and was taken to hospital following the fall, but died from her injuries.
Police say Miss Fairweather had a history of mental instability and told relatives she believed that the FBI was watching her, and someone had put a device in her chest.
She had recently dropped out of Barnard College to pursue art and describes herself on a personal website as a New York artist who likes to 'take inspiration from her natural surroundings'.
Earlier in June, she disappeared from the family's home on Shelter Island and later appeared at the New York apartment, 800 5th Avenue, which is on one of the city's most prestigious blocks. The building belongs to the property dynasty family of disgraced New York governor Eliot Spitzer.
FedEx worker Gail Garcia, 48, said she tried to shout to Fairweather before she took the fatal plunge.
Phoebe is the stepdaughter of the late New York artist John Chamberlain, pictured with her mother Prudence. He died in 2011 but was internationally known for his sculptures
John Chamberlain, who died in 2011, was internationally known for his sculptures from wrecked cars and exhibited at famous galleries including the Guggenheim and Dia: Beacon.
In the year of his death, his Nutcracker masterpiece (1958) from the Allan Stone Estate sold at auction for $4.7 million, more than twice its high $1.8 million estimate and a record price for the artist at auction.
In the U.S., for support on suicide matters call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-8255 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org
In the UK, for confidential support call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or see www.samaritans.org
THE SALOONKEEPER'S SON WHO BECAME AMERICA'S BIGGEST SCULPTOR
Born in Rochester, Indiana, he was the son of a saloonkeeper, raised mostly by his grandmother after his parents divorced. He spent much of his youth in Chicago, then served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946, when he attended the Art Institute of Chicago then Black Mountain College. A year after graduating, he moved to New York where he began his illustrious career.
Chamberlain is best known for creating sculptures from old cars and parts that bring the Abstract Expressionist style of painting into three dimensions. He began by carving and modelling, but turned to working in metal in 1952 and welding 1953. By 1957, while staying with the painter Larry Rivers in Southampton, New York, he began to include scrap metal from cars with his sculpture Shortstop. From 1959 onward he concentrated on sculpture built entirely of crushed automobile parts welded together.
By the end of the 1960s, Chamberlain had replaced his signature materials initially with galvanized steel, then with mineral-coated Plexiglas, and finally with aluminum foil. Chamberlain has limited himself to specific parts of the automobile (fenders, bumpers, or the chassis, for example). In 1973, two 300-pound metal pieces by Chamberlain were mistaken for junk and carted away as they sat outside a gallery warehouse in Chicago.
In the early 1980s, Chamberlain moved to Sarasota, Florida, where an 18,000-square-foot warehouse studio on Cocoanut Avenue enabled him to work on a much grander scale than he previously had. In 1984, Chamberlain created the monumental American Tableau created for display on the Seagram Building's plaza.
When he died in 2011, he was regarded as one of America's greatest modern artists. That year, his Nutcracker masterpiece (1958) from the Allan Stone Estate sold at auction for $4.7 million, more than twice its high $1.8 million estimate and a record price for the artist at auction.