Keith Haring Collection Fetches $4.6 Million

Last month the Keith Haring Foundation put up for sale a total of 144 lots at Sotheby’s in an online sale entitled “Dear Keith: Works from the Personal Collection of Keith Haring”. In total the sale fetched a remarkable $4.6 million, a figure three times the $1.4 million high pre-sale estimate, which will benefit New York’s LGBT Center.

Drawn from Haring’s personal art collection, the lots featured many artworks traded between Haring and fellow East Village artists during the 1980s. The top-selling lot was a collaborative artwork created by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fab 5 Freddy, Futura, Rammellzee, Haze, Zephyr, Sniper, CHI-193, Chino and Haring in 1981. The “Untitled” piece comprised 19 plexiglas slates tagged with illustrations by each of the participant artists and sold for $504,000, smashing a pre-sale estimate of $80,000.

Also selling for $504,000 was Andy Warhol’s silkscreen portrait of Haring and his partner, Jean Dubois, trumping a pre-sale estimate of $200,000. Another leading lot was “Forms in Space”, Roy Lichtenstein’s eyecatching 1985 work inspired by the American flag which sold for $214,200.

Other lots included rare ephemera such as an untitled drawing by Basquiat which fetched $108,000. A true piece of art history, the work features a caption on the back by Haring which states: “This is the drawing Jean gave me for the Xerox catalog which accompanied the first exhibition I held at Club 57.”

Interestingly, sales were strong for artists whose work is enjoying a resurgence on the secondary market. Brion Gysin’s “Dreamachine” sculpture created with engineer Ian Sommerville soundly beat a pre-sale estimate of $600 finishing up at $32,760. Another historic piece, a boom box from 1985 with painted designs by Kenny Scharf sold at $94,500 against a pre-sale estimate of just $4000.

The impressive sales total and plethora of estimate-beating bids indicates the continued strength and resilience of the art market against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the closure of galleries and cancellation of the world’s most important art fairs, as an alternative asset art has held its value well over the course of 2020. Many collectors have continued to acquire pieces to refresh the aesthetic of their homes during national lockdowns, while investors seek to diversify stock-heavy portfolios with reliable asset-backed alternatives.