Keith Haring’s personal art collection to go on sale

Keith Haring

Photographer unknown (1989). Courtesy of The LGBT Community Center National History Archive


September at Sotheby’s is shaping up to be pretty impressive. Following the auction house’s first-ever hip-hop auction, you can also grab yourself a piece from artist and activist Keith Haring’s personal collection.

To raise funds for The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York (also known as The Center), Dear Keith will present more than 140 works that had been gifted to, purchased by and traded with Haring among friends and artists in his community, including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf.

All of the works will appear at auction for the first time this autumn to coincide with the 30th anniversary year of Haring’s death in 1990 from HIV/AIDS-related causes. They’ll reveal never-before-told stories about Haring’s community and New York’s art scene during the 1970s and 80s.

Highlights include an Untitled portrait of Haring with Juan DuBose – a DJ as well as Haring’s partner and lover, who passed away due to HIV/AIDS in 1988 (estimate $200/250,000) – as well as a significant group of works by artists associated with Club 57 – the nightclub located in New York’s East Village that quickly became central to the city’s countercultural movement when it opened its doors in 1978.

In keeping with the artist’s legacy of philanthropy, 100 per cent of the proceeds from the online auction will benefit The Center, an organisation that empowers the queer community of New York to lead healthy, successful lives; celebrates the community’s diversity and advocates for justice and opportunity.

Harrison Tenzer, Head of Sotheby's Contemporary Art Online Sales in New York, said: “The collection is remarkably autobiographical, just as any great collector’s estate is a window into their individual perspective. We see the progression of Keith’s life captured in these works, from those of his childhood friend Kermit Oswald, to SVA [School of Visual Arts] 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.”

Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Center, said: "Keith Haring fostered hope and resilience during difficult times. 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 fuelled that pandemic. It is this strong love for community, art and activism that we have always been proud to uphold. Once again, our work is urgently needed as LGBTQ people are fighting through the current Covid-19 pandemic, and demand for our services has been increasing. The Keith Haring Foundation has always honoured Keith's legacy with their enduring generosity – and we are incredibly grateful for their latest gift. Their decision to auction many of Keith's precious pieces, with the help of Sotheby's, strengthens our ability to continue serving thousands of LGBTQ people regardless of what the future brings."

Dear Keith: Works from the Personal Collection of Keith Haring will be open for bidding from 24 September-1 October. Works carry estimates starting at $100, and works with low estimates under $10,000 will be offered without reserve, presenting collecting opportunities at all levels.


Andy Warhol, Portrait of Keith Haring and Juan DuBose

Andy Warhol, Portrait of Keith Haring and Juan DuBose

Keith Haring's Laguardia apartment

Keith Haring's Laguardia apartment

Keith Haring's Laguardia apartment

Roy Lichtenstein, Forms in Space

*Cover image: Keith Haring, credit © Keith Haring Foundation. Polaroids, The Keith Haring Foundation Archives