Auction  October 2, 2020  Chandra Noyes

Auction of Keith Haring's Personal Collection Shatters Estimates

Created: Fri, 10/02/2020 - 21:09
Author: chandra

This week Sotheby’s New York's Dear Keith: Works from the Personal Collection of Keith Haring sale tripled its low estimate to reach an impressive $4.6 million. All 144 lots sold, some of which were offered without reserve and whose low-estimates totaled just $1.4 million. Ranging from folk art to personal gifts, photographs, and pieces by the greatest names of his day, many of which hung in Haring's home, the works on sale offered a unique opportunity to own part of the collection of one of Pop Art’s greatest figures. Coinciding with the thirtieth anniversary of the artist's death in 1990 from AIDS-related causes, the Keith Haring Foundation sold the works to benefit the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York.

An artist is a spokesman for a society at any given point in history. His language is determined by his perception of the world we all live in. He is a medium between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’.
– Keith Haring

An international star of the 1980s art scene, Haring’s murals can still be found around the world, and his bold, stylized drawings are now iconic. The breadth of his collection, as seen in this sale, shows what an important role Haring played in the art world of the 1980s.

1 of 11
courtesy sotheby's

Andy Warhol, Portrait of Keith Haring and Juan Dubose, 1983.
Estimate: $200,000 - 250,000
Sold: $504,000

Once intimidated by his idol, Haring and Andy Warhol came to be friends and collaborators. Here, Warhol shows Haring and his lover Juan Dubose. Though from a modern perspective it may seem uncontroversial, at the time, Proudly depicting an openly gay, interracial couple took courage. This portrait was a prized possession of Haring’s, and one of the leading lots of the sale.

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courtesy sotheby's
Gumby Quartz LCD watch signed by Andy Warhol

Gumby Quartz LCD watch signed by Andy Warhol, c. 1985.
Estimate: $800 - 1,200
Sold: $11,340

Warhol and Haring shared a love of Pop Culture and its visual language. The two exchanged art, ideas, and gifts, like this Gumby watch, signed by Warhol.

3 of 11
courtesy sotheby's
John Lennon and Yoko Ono drawing

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Let's Have a Dream, 1977. Sumi ink and silver leaf on paperboard with copper leaf trim.
Estimate: $1,000 - 2,000
Sold: $50,400

His friendship with Andy Warhol introduced Haring to a world of superstars, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who hosted celebrity-filled dinners at their home. Haring recalled in an interview, “When he brought me to Yoko’s apartment the first time, it was incredible. You can’t believe that you’re there. The ultimate one was a dinner at Yoko’s. I brought Madonna and the artist Martin Burgoyne. Andy was already there. Bob Dylan was there. David Bowie was there. And Iggy Pop. Just sort of in the kitchen. At first you are more in awe of things like that, but you adapt really quickly."

4 of 11
courtesy sotheby's

Roy Lichtenstein, Forms in Space, c. 1985. Silkscreen on paper.
Estimate: $50,000 - 70,000
Sold: $214,200

Roy Lichtenstein was another older, more established artist who influenced Haring. They shared a vibrant color palette and Pop aesthetic, as well as an interest presenting social critique through apparently playful compositions.

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courtesy sotheby's

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, c. 1985. Acrylic on found aluminum.
Estimate: $100,000 - 150,000
Sold: $226,800

A fellow artworld superstar, as well as a friend, Jean-Michel Basquiat shared exhibitions with Haring numerous times. Of Basquiat, Haring said, “There are artists whose work I appreciate, but there aren’t a lot of artists that I have a relationship with that I’m totally inspired and intimidated by at the same time. [Warhol and Basquiat] were both like that... You think that they are so good that it makes you think that you’re not good. Or that you think you’re not doing enough, because seeing what they do just makes you want to go back and work."

6 of 11
courtesy sotheby's

Kenny Scharf, Untitled, c. 1985. Gouache and ink on paper, in painted artist's frame.
Estimate: $18,000 - 25,000
Sold: $56,700

Friend, classmate at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and roommate, Kenny Scharf was a frequent collaborator of Haring's. They shared an aesthetic interest in cartoons, Pop art, and graffiti, that is present in this fun, vibrant painting.

7 of 11
courtesy sotheby's
George Condo drawing cartoon drawing of a man in profile which the artist has dedicated to Keith Karing

George Condo, Untitled (Keith Haring), 1989. Pastel on found paper.
Estimate: $12,000 - 18,000
Sold: $44,100

Close friends and colleagues, Haring and George Condo shared a mutual admiration. Drawn the last time the two were together, in Paris in 1989, this caricature of Haring is inscribed "For Keith in Paris, so it is once before a bum I am..." Condo says of their friendship, “All the fun and amazingly inspirational times spent together with Keith will always remain deep in my heart. He was at all times truly my best friend... We always laughed even when he was very sick and spoke often about art and mortality.”

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courtesy sotheby's
a collection of drawings

Fab Five Freddy, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Futura, Rammellzee, Haze, Zephyr, Sniper, Chi-193 and Chino, Untitled, 1981. Paint marker on Plexiglas, in 19 parts.
Estimate: $80,000 - 120,000
Sold: $504,000

A leading lot of the sale, this collection of plexiglass sheets includes works by eleven great artists in one artwork, representing a who’s who of 1980s New York graffiti artists. A project initiated by seminal Hip Hop DJ Fab Five Freddy, the artists have tagged clear plexiglass in white marker, a style in direct opposition to their usual large-scale, vibrant graffiti.

9 of 11
courtesy sotheby's
Lady Pink spraypaint painting of women working the street with a car

Lady Pink, 1969 Super Sport Camero [a double-sided work], 1984. Spray enamel on unstretched canvas.
Estimate: $10,000 - 15,000
Sold: $163,800

The first famous female graffiti artist, Lady Pink had no problem keeping up with the boys club that was the graffiti scene. This painting, created while working with Jenny Holzer, shows the prostitutes working in nearby Times Square.

10 of 11
courtesy sotheby's
Tom Otterness bas relief sculpture of figures at a table with a skeleton

Tom Otterness, Commemorative Plaque, 1980. Plaster relief.
Estimate: $300 - 500
Sold: $4,788

Many up and coming artists of the 1980s created cheaper, smaller works to sell in shops or on the streets to keep themselves afloat. A young Tom Otterness created 250 of these plaster reliefs, one of which he traded with Haring for a blueprint drawing.

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courtesy sotheby's
Howard Finster outline of a triceratops, multicolored filled with text

Howard Finster, Untitled, dated Feb-29-1989. Acrylic and felt-tip pen on wood.
Estimate: $800 - 1,200
Sold: $4,032

The great American folk artist Howard Finster was another inspirational figure for Haring. Driven by a divine calling, Finster created nearly 47,000 works in his life, many of them influenced by pop culture and mass media.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is the former Managing Editor for Art & Object.