Bob Dylan's Complicated Relationship With His Muse, Edie Sedgwick

Beautiful Edie Sedgwick was the classic 60s it-girl par excellence — popular, surrounded by famous men, and already dead of an overdose aged 28. Although she was envied by many, Sedgwick's life was replete with tragedy, and her relationships with men in particular were as challenging as they were glamorous(via Vanity Fair).

Sedgwick is best known for hanging off the arm of Pop Art icon Andy Warhol, although their relationship lasted for just under a year, from 1965 to 1966. Like many in Warhol's circle, Sedgwick fell headlong into drugs, a habit that would ultimately cause her death (via The Independent).

During this troubled era of parties are narcotics, Sedgwick crossed paths with singer Bob Dylan, and the famous beauty is rumored to have inspired at least two of his songs — "Just Like a Woman" and "Like a Rolling Stone".

To this day, the notoriously reticent Dylan refuses to talk about Sedgwick (via The Guardian). According to the aging folk singer the two never had a relationship, but many others believe Dylan broke Sedgwick's heart.

What happened between Sedgwick and Dylan?

Rumors surrounding the pair's apparent love affair have never really been substantiated. The alleged lovers most certainly hung out around the time Sedgwick stop seeing Andy Warhol, but whether or not they had a romance is unknown. One of Sedgwick's closest friends once claimed in a Vanity Fair interview that Bob Dylan tried to pull vulnerable Sedgwick away from Warhol's circle of influence.

According to Sedgwick's brother Jonathan, not long after they met, Dylan got Sedgwick pregnant, which in turn led to a traumatic forced abortion (via ATI). If Jonathan's account is true, Dylan might have good reason to deny the story (around the same time, he secretly married his wife Sara).

Edie confessed to her brother that she was head over heels in love with the singer, and she was later crushed by the news of his secret marriage. According to Sedgwick's sister, Edie's downward spiral began around this time, shortly after she left Warhol (via The New Yorker).

By late 1966, Sedgwick had burned through her fortune and was committed to an institution by her parents. She began stealing antiques to pay for drugs and eventually died of an overdose in 1971.

The Factory Girl film controversy

Edie Sedgwick remains an understandably touchy subject for Dylan today. In 2006, a film about Sedgwick included a thinly-veiled stand-in for Dylan, a folk singer named Quinn. While the film producers were evidently trying to avoid a lawsuit, Dylan's lawyers still claimed the movie was defamatory (via The Independent). Dylan asserted that the movie tried to pin Sedgwick's death on him, although star Sienna Millar argued that Warhol is the bigger target in the film (via The Guardian).

It is doubtful whether Warhol or Dylan were really to blame for Sedgwick's instability and troubled state of mind. Sedgwick had grown up with a difficult, depressive, and sexually abusive father (via The Daily Mail) and struggled with depression and anorexia herself. Too rich for her own good, Sedgwick was an extremely vulnerable person, swept up in a rockstar lifestyle that she could in no way hope to handle.

If it's true that "Like a Rolling Stone" is a song about the tragic socialite, then Dylan too seems to have agreed that she was destined for trouble, penning the sad lines: "Once upon a time you dressed so fine/You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?/People'd call, say, 'Beware doll, you're bound to fall'/You thought they were all kiddin' you."