No Case Against Keith Haring Foundation

March 12, 2015

The Keith Haring Foundation was not involved in an antitrust conspiracy and did not attempt to control the art market when it refused to acknowledge some paintings as the original work of the late Keith Haring. This was the decision that U.S. District Judge Denise Cote made on claims of nine collectors (Elizabeth Bilinski, George Lathouras, Lisa Cubisino, Jacqueline Petruzzelli, Anthony Petruzzelli, Arthur Canario, Geraldine Biehl, Lucas Schoormans and Jesus Ramos), which sued The Keith Haring Foundation about one year ago for the amount of $40 million.

Keith Haring
Keith Haring - Double Man

What Was That All About

In February 2014, the aforementioned group of nine collectors sued The Keith Haring Foundation on the accusations of “wrongfully destroying” the value of their collections when The Foundation publicly stated that a certain number of paintings (a total of 93 works) were fake. The whole thing started back in 2007, when The Keith Haring Foundation's authentication committee refused to recognize some paintings, purportedly made by Keith Haring, as authentic. Those paintings were submitted to the foundation's committee by Elizabeth Bilinski, one of the collectors that would file a suit eight years latter. Two years ago, in March 2013, the group of collectors, and subsequently, the group of plaintiffs, held a Haring show in Miami, with some of the paintings that the foundation committee announced as fake back in 2007. After that show in Miami, The Keith Haring Foundation sued the organizers of the show, claiming that vast majority of the works that were exhibited were fake, and many of them recognized as fake in 2007, by the foundation committee. In the meantime, The Keith Haring Foundation's authentication committee ceased to exist, as the foundation abandoned the authentication of Keith Haring's art work.

Keith Haring
Keith Haring at Pace Prints

The Epilogue

The plaintiffs claimed that the foundation on several occasions ignored the information that collectors were giving to it, and that would those information establish the authenticity of the work in their ownership. For that, they sued The Keith Haring Foundation for the amount of $40 million, for "the damages and lost sales", as this action of the foundation (refusal to authenticate paintings in plaintiffs ownership and publicly naming them as fake) scared the potential buyers. But, according to the court decision from Monday, March 9th, this claims do not stand. As the judge stated in her 35-page opinion, there was no antitrust conspiracy by The Keith Haring Foundation, as, in her opinion, plaintiffs (untenably) suggests that "any refusal by an auction house, dealer, or gallery to sell a Haring without authentication by the foundation could be a conspiratorial act". Also, judge Denise Cote wrote that all auction houses and others that refused to buy Keith Haring's paintings that were unauthenticated by the foundation, were just doing "an act consistent with lawful, independent action".

Keith Haring
Ketih Haring - Untitled

The Life and Work of Keith Haring

Keith Haring was an American graffiti artist that lived in the New York City. He was born in 1958 and was known for his striking and memorable works on the streets of the New York. Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, in 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation, and died the next year. At the time of the aforementioned claim in 2014, the record for his work was $2.8 million, and since then, four of his paintings surpassed that result - the record at this time is $4.9 million. We invite you to read his detailed biography here.

Please, let us know what is your opinion! Join in on a discussion of the topic by posting on our Facebook page.

Sign up now for My WideWalls and be up-to-date with contemporary and street art.

Keith Haring
Keith Haring - The Paris Review

Keith Haring
Keith Haring - Untitled (Flying Saucer, Feb.3), 1981 (Courtesy of Keith Haring Foundation)

Featured image: Keith Haring - Pop Shop Quad 1