Sotheby’s selects Haring’s monumental “people’s masterpiece,” nine-story banner that recently headlined Miami Art Week
December 15, 2022 (New York, NY) - Today, Sotheby’s and the CityKids Foundation drop the largest-ever Keith Haring NFT, continuing the late artist’s legacy of using art for social good. In 1986, legendary artist Keith Haring and the CityKids Foundation co-created the banner “Speak on Liberty,” a nine-story masterpiece. 1,000 kids from across the city expressed what liberty meant to them at that time to honor the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. The 90’ x 30’ banner headlined this year’s Miami Art Week and is currently being displayed on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach for the first time through mid-January. Coming off of Miami Art Week, Sotheby’s will work in conjunction with CityKids and Deepak Chopra’s web3 accelerator Seva.Love to support the launch of the NFT.
“Co-creating 'Speak on Liberty' with Keith Haring and CityKids was one of the highlights of my life. Now, we will add web 3 literacy to our artivism work to empower the next generation of global thinkers, activists, and builders while tackling issues such as mental well-being, economic inequality, racism, tech poverty, climate, and liberty. Keith's dedication to young people forever inspires us through his collaborations,” said Laurie Meadoff, Founder and President of The CityKids Foundation.
CityKids has retained ownership of the physical masterpiece since its creation. In 2020, both to preserve the work and to generate new digital experiences around it, CityKids digitized the work with Metaverse Studio IMMUSE, turning a warehouse in Brooklyn, NY into a giant physical scanner, which resulted in a 6GB photo file at life-sized dimensions. That single file has now been divided into 385 1-of-1 pieces, with the top 384 smaller pieces turned into a compressible puzzle, and the bottom 1-of-1 larger piece featuring Haring’s signature animated figures available for the first time at Sothebys.com.
“CityKids is helping to keep Keith’s legacy alive by inspiring a new generation of youth activists and creators,” said Gil Vazquez, Executive Director and President, Keith Haring Foundation. Both the display at Miami Art Week and the drop build on Keith’s legacy of artivism. During Art Week, there was an interactive exhibit where more than 200 people were able to participate, sharing their opinions on why liberty is broken. Viewers collaborated by writing directly on the broken pieces of the 3D version of Haring’s torch from the original banner.
Keith’s sister Kay Haring has been a longtime supporter of CityKids. This year, Kay’s daughter Yenna Hill joined CityKids as a Board Member. “Keith always worked with a drive to give to others, until art became part of them in whatever way they might need. This philosophy has been an influence for me and so many others! I am so happy to be involved in CityKids’ current and future projects,” said Yenna Hill, artist and niece of Keith Haring.
“Keith Haring is one of the most instantly recognizable and celebrated artists to emerge from the downtown New York art scene of the 1980s. Not only has Haring’s work had a deep and lasting influence on pop culture, but his legacy of art as activism remains a critically important model for how many artists work today. As a firm believer in the social power of art, Haring’s deeply empathetic vision is epitomized in ‘Speak on Liberty.’ As a large-scale public mural, Haring displays not only his compassion and humanity, but also his conviction in the ways in which art can enrich and teach. To offer the first Haring NFT at Sotheby’s is a unique opportunity to share his work and legacy with a broader audience,” said Michael Bouhanna, Sotheby’s Head of Digital Art & NFTs.
Online bidding for “Speak on Liberty” will be open from December 15-21 on Sotheby’s online auction platform through the Natively Digital: Relics II sale. Sotheby’s estimates the value at 60,000-80,000 USD. Funds generated by the NFTs will underwrite ongoing CityKids' arts-engaged leadership training, financial literacy, and multicultural bridge-building programs.
Photo and video of the banner outside 1111 Lincoln Rd HERE, courtesy of the CityKids Foundation.
About The CityKids Foundation
For more than 37 years, The CityKids Foundation, a NY 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has pioneered and maintained innovative, cutting-edge, diverse youth development programs. Founded in 1985 by Laurie Meadoff, CityKids has inspired and empowered thousands of young people to become community leaders and motivated agents of social change through safe spaces, arts training, and multicultural bridge-building programs.