Keith Haring’s personal art collection will be auctioned off to raise money for NYC’s LGBTQ Center

August 28, 2020

On September 24, Sotheby’s will open the auction for “Dear Keith: Works from the Personal Collection of Keith Haring.” The auction is comprised of more than 140 artworks from Haring’s personal collection and is expected to raise close to $1 million, all of which will all go directly to the LGBTQ Community Center. The collection is being donated by the Keith Haring Foundation, which was set up by the artist and activist himself shortly before he passed away from HIV/AIDS in 1990. It includes pieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Kenny Scharf, Jenny Holzer, and George Condo.


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We are honored to announce ‘Dear Keith: Works from the Personal Collection of Keith Haring’ – an online auction @sothebys offering 140+ works of art and objects from the artist and activist’s personal collection, which opens for bidding on 24 September. All works are on offer from the @keithharingfoundation, which was established by the artist shortly before his death in 1990 from HIV/AIDS-related causes. And in keeping with the Foundation’s mission to sustain and expand the artist’s legacy of philanthropy, full proceeds from the auction will benefit @lgbtcenternyc – an organization that empowers the queer community of New York to lead healthy, successful lives, celebrates the community’s diversity and advocates for justice and opportunity. #dearkeith

A post shared by @ keithharingfoundation on Aug 28, 2020 at 5:51am PDT

According to a press release from Sotheby’s:

All of the works will appear at auction this fall for the first time, together revealing never-before-told stories about Haring’s community and bringing to life the celebrated art scene of 1970s and 80s New York – from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and Club 57 to street art and beyond.

As the New York Times explains, the Keith Haring Foundation made the decision to part with the collection because having works created by other artists rather than the artist they represent could prove challenging for their charitable status. In keeping with Haring’s philanthropic mission, they decided to use the auction to support the Center. Gil Vazquez, acting director of the foundation, told the Times, “It feels as if Keith himself rallied his friends to make art for this specific purpose. The Center embodies so much of what Keith was about: community, empowerment and the support of our future, the youth.”

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York (The Center) works with the LGBTQ communities in New York City to provide advocacy, health and wellness programs; arts, entertainment and cultural events; recovery, parenthood and family support services. In 1989, Haring created a mural for the Center, which became one of his last works before his death. Called “Once Upon a Time,” the mural addressed sexual liberation and was actually painted in a bathroom as part of a show for which the Center “called upon LGBT artists to create site-specific works of art in the building,” according to Atlas Obscura. After a restoration, the mural was opened to the public in 2015.

If the auction fetches the expected $1 million, it will go a long way for the Center. The Times notes that they are “facing a projected $5.4 million shortfall in revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic,” which is a 34 percent decrease in funding. However, because of COVID, they’re also seeing a 40 percent increase in demand for services.

“Dear Keith” will be on exhibition in Sotheby’s New York headquarters, as well as online, beginning September 26. Bidding will run from September 24 through October 1.


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