September 25, 2020 at 2:36pm
More than 140 objects from Keith Haring’s personal collection are on the block at Sotheby’s this week, with the proceeds going to benefit New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. The auction, which is online September 24–October 1 and on view at Sotheby’s in New York September 26–30, is expected to raise roughly $1 million.
On sale are items including a Gumby watch gifted to Haring by Andy Warhol, which the older artist signed; works from a show Haring curated at the legendary but short-lived downtown nightspot Club 57; and an original invitation to a TriBeCa show reputed to be the first at which graffiti art by uptown Bronx artists, influenced by the burgeoning hip-hop scene, and the work of downtown street artists like Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat was shown together. Prices range from $100, for a painting by David Bowes, to an expected $200,000–$250,000, for a silkscreen portrait by Warhol depicting Haring and his sometime-partner Juan Dubose. Works by such big-name artists as Joseph Beuys and Roy Lichtenstein are included, as are those by downtown scenemakers Kenny Scharf and John Sex, both of whom were Haring’s classmates at New York’s School of Visual Arts.
All the objects were provided by the Keith Haring Foundation, whose mission is to promote and protect the artist’s legacy and to continue his advocacy on behalf of AIDS organizations and children’s charities. Haring’s relationship with the LGBT Center was more than tangential: In 1989, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the artist painted a mural on the wall of the Greenwich Village organization’s second-floor men’s room.
The sale, which has been in the works since last year, comes as the LGBT Center has projected $5.4 million in losses this year, owing to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Speaking to Hyperallergic, the center’s executive director, Glennda Testone, noted that, though the center remains closed for public safety, it has seen a “45 percent increase in demand for mental health counseling and substance use treatment throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.”