Keith Haring painting cut from artist’s bedroom wall to be auctioned | Keith Haring

In 2004, on a bike trip through Kutztown, Pennsylvania, Scott and Angela Garner came across their dream home: a brick Victorian home with shutters on the windows and a spacious porch in front.

The interior was something completely unexpected. On the wall of a small room downstairs was a drawing five inches just above the light switch. Radiant Baby, was one of the most popular images of the successful pop artist and activist of the 80s Keith Haringpainted in gold against a vibrant blue background in his childhood bedroom.

The woman who bought the house from the Haring family – who later sold it to the Garner family – almost drew on the picture. But at the last minute, when I changed the room’s decor from blue to pale yellow, I kept the Radiant Baby.

“She’s been hiding in this house all these years, completely unknown,” said Kristen Oakland, art historian.

Next month, the photo – now cut from the wall into a painting that includes the light switch – will be auctioned off. A pre-sale price estimate has not been released by New Jersey Raggo/Rights Auctions, but the record for Haring’s artwork—for a 1982 painting Untitled—is $6.5 million, despite the sale. led to a lawsuit After the buyer defaults.

Keith Haring in New York City in September 1986.
Keith Haring in New York City in September 1986. Photo: Joe McNally/Getty Images

“The radioactive baby is Haring’s mark, his signature,” Oakland said. “What makes this so wonderful is that there is no doubt as to its authenticity. It is unusual because it is painted in gold, and Haring was mostly painted white on black, or black on whatever material it was. I don’t want to say it is unique, but it is rare.”

It is believed that the picture dates back to the early 80s, it was painted on a visit to his family after the artist moved to New York, where he quickly found a following and financial success.

In New York, Haring became involved in an alternative art community that was based on city streets and subways rather than galleries and museums. He became friends with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf and began painting on unused billboards in city subway stations, sometimes making 40 pictures a day. He said the subway had become a “laboratory” for experiments.

Haring has gained international recognition and his work has appeared in more than 100 exhibitions. He has produced more than 50 public artworks worldwide, many with social messages, but he has also done commercially profitable work, developing watch designs for Swatch and an advertising campaign for Absolut Vodka.

In 1986, he opened a Pop Shop in Soho to sell merchandise bearing his portraits. He said the intent was to allow people to access his work at lower costs, but many in the art world criticized the project.

Two years later, Haring was diagnosed with AIDS and established the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funding for AIDS organizations and other social causes. He died in 1990 at the age of 31.

“He was a brave and wonderful man,” Oakland said. “He was open about getting AIDS at a time of stigma. He raised money for his foundation to support causes he believed in. He wanted to help humanity.”

Keith Haring's radiant child above the light switch as he was painted in his childhood home.
The image – cut from the wall into a painting that includes the light switch – will be auctioned next month in New Jersey. Photo: Courtesy of Raghu/Wright

When Garners knocked on the door of the Haring family’s former home in 2004 to express an interest in buying it, the then-owner mentioned in passing that there was a drawing in one room that he believed Keith Haring had painted.

“Our hearts started beating really fast,” said Angela Garner, social worker. “We were amazed that a world-class artist was living in the house.”

The couple invited Allen Haring, Keith’s father, who still lives in Kutztown, home. He confirmed that his son drew the picture and signed the letter of Asala.

Garners protected the painting with a glass plate and cherished it for 18 years. “She’s been a part of our family for a long time, but we always thought we might part with her,” said Scott Garner, limo driver. “There isn’t a lot of foot traffic that goes through our house.”

Angela Garner said, “We feel like it belongs in a museum. It tells a story, it’s part of Keith Haring’s childhood.” The proceeds from the sale will help pay for their son’s college.

The couple said it was a sad moment when they removed the wall section and drove it to the auction house. “But it’s encouraging to think that we might one day be able to see him in New York, Paris or Japan,” said Scott Garner.

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