Keith Haring Archival Trove Comes to Auction, with Proceeds Going to LGBTQ Organization

BY ANGELICA VILLAAugust 28, 2020 3:11pm

Keith Haring
Keith Haring. © Keith Haring Foundation.

In collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation, Sotheby’s will auction more than 140 works from the artist’s personal collection in an online sale this fall. Works by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Tseng Kwong Chi, and George Condo, among others, are set to be featured in the sale, titled “Dear Keith: Works from the Personal Collection of Keith Haring,” which features items with starting bids as low as $100. Bidding will be open from September 24 to October 1.

Items tagged with low pre-sale estimates under $10,000 are being offered without a reserve price, allowing collectors at all financial levels to compete. All proceeds from the auction will go to the benefit of the LGBTQ Community Center of New York as an extension of the estate foundation’s philanthropic program, to aid the organization during a period of increasing demand for resources as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Among the offerings will be an untitled screen-printed portrait of Haring with ex-partner and DJ Juan DuBose, who, after a five year on-and-off relationship with the artist, died in 1998 from AIDS-related complications. The edition is valued at $200,000–$250,000. The auction also includes two Roy Lichtenstein prints, one of which is Forms in Space (1985), featuring an American flag and priced at $50,000–$70,000, and a Basquiat drawing priced at $100,000–$150,000.

“The collection is remarkably autobiographical, just as any great collector’s estate is a window into their individual perspective,” said Harrison Tenzer, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Online Sales in New York. “We see the progression of Keith’s life captured in these works, from those of his childhood friend Kermit Oswald, to SVA peers John Sex and Kenny Scharf, to fellow upstart Jean-Michel Basquiat, to graffiti writers Futura 2000 and Lee Quiñones, to his heroes Andy Warhol, Pierre Alechinsky, and William Burroughs, who he collaborated with during his meteoric rise to fame.”

Haring’s connection with The Center is a significant part of his legacy as both artist and activist. He executed one of his final monumental murals, Once Upon a Time, as a commission in the second-floor men’s bathroom at organization’s New York headquarters in May 1989 for “The Center Show,” held on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. “He painted his 1989 mural, Once Upon a Time, on our walls to celebrate sexual liberation and envision a world without AIDS, in direct opposition to the fear and stigma that fueled that pandemic,” said Glennda Testone, Executive Director of the Center.

The event will bring capital to The Center—and for the market— an unseen archive of materials lending insight into the connections of some of American’s most recognized cultural figures. “It is rare that we as a foundation are able to address so many of the concerns that our founder deeply cared about in a single gift” said, Gil Vazquez, Acting Director of the Keith Haring Foundation.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, auction houses have capitalized on charitable partnerships with high-profile artists’ estates as a means to secure low-risk consignments and to draw new buyers. In May, Christie’s partnered with the Andy Warhol Foundation on a Polaroid sale that brought fresh material from the artist’s estate to the market despite the shaky economic landscape. The proceeds of that auction went to coronavirus relief efforts.

Before his early death from AIDS-related causes in 1990, Haring established his foundation. In recent years, the Haring Foundation has been active in further cementing the artist’s global legacy, promoting his work in the art world and beyond through a litany of grant programs and collaborations with streetwear labels like Obey and Etudes.


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