Home Magazine The last case of Keith Haring's mural. Are there any limits in art market?

The questionable street art acts have been actively discussed in recent years. Many famous artists, such as Banksy - with his performance for the Sotheby's art auction - or the Italian Street Artist Blu - who has completely destroyed some of his most iconic walls - have already declared the war with the current art system. But what can an artist do from the afterlife? 

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Between 1983 and 1984 - a period during which an artist started achieving his worldwide recognition -  Keith Haring created a 25 meter mural for Grace House's wall, a Catholic youth center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. According to the memories of those who knew Keith Haring, such as Benny Soto, artist’s assistant right until Haring’s death in 1990, Gary Mellon, the-then Director of the Catholic Institute, wasn't so sure about the project.

However, already in 2016, when the long-forgotten work was redeveloped, Gary Mellon declared: "He was very fast, and there was no preparatory drawing or study. Everything came spontaneously, from his head to the wall through the brush". Haring took just under an hour to make the work, by composing 15 "radiant child" that represent the perfect sum of his peculiar aesthetics.


Keith Haring, Grace House's mural sold at Bonhams for 3,860,075 million dollars.


In this case, we cannot only focus on the questionable sells by the auction house but rather start thinking about the long travel of a Haring’s wall that previously was the Ascension Church. Indeed, because of the facility management costs, Ascension Church (owner of Grace House) has invested 900 thousand dollars to remove the mural, by calling the specialized firm EverGreene Architectural Arts, which managed to keep all the figures intact. Then, the church delivered the mural to Bonhams, that put it on auction and sold at a price included an initial estimate between 3 and 5 million dollars. The proceeds, according to the auction house, will be destined to improvement projects. During the Post-War & Contemporary Art sale, on November 13th, Bonhams sold the work in separate pieces for a total value of  3,860,075 million dollars.

However, not everyone was happy about this situation. For instance, Gil Vazquez, the President of the Haring Foundation declared in his interview for the New York Times: "We are disappointed. This mural was not conceived for a collector but to give light up in a room full of children, and remains a unique piece''.

Cover image: Keith Haring, Grace House, Upper West Side of Manhattan

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