Exhibit featuring '80s pop art by Keith Haring goes on as authentication battle rages
MIAMI — A showdown over art - real and possibly not so real- is playing out in the MiamiDesign District, completewith legal threats, court orders and lots of confusion.
At issue: whether piecesin an exhibit featuring theworks of 1980s pop-artistKeith Haring have been properly authenticated.
A New York law firm representing the Keith HaringFoundation is demandingthat the exhibit remove allbut 10 of the 175 pieces of art.
The deadline was 7 p.m.Friday.
As the deadline loomed,the entire exhibit appearedto remain intact.
On Friday evening, theshow went on as planned.
Organizers took $25 admission from art lovers whowandered in from the street.
No one was moving artworkout of the exhibit space asthe deadline passed.
Michael Rosen, who co-produced the exhibit withManny Hernandez, said thetwo had come to an agreement with the Haring Foundation in which one of the 12collections in the exhibitwould be removed and therest would be allowed to remain. Rosen said the collection at issue had been removed earlier Friday.
But there is some question on the size of the unauthenticated collection. Rosen said it was a small part ofthe exhibit, while the collection's attorney, StephenWeingrad, said the collection could encompass 100pieces of work.
Rosen's attorney, HermanRussomanno III, sent ane-mail to the Miami Heraldindicating that the exhibitwould continue to show only the 10 pieces of art thatwere authenticated by theHaring Foundation.
"If there's anything leftthere other than those 10pieces, we're going to have aproblem," said Sarah Gold, aFlorida attorney who is filing a lawsuit on behalf of theKeith Haring Foundation.
"Haring Miami," whichopened Wednesday andruns through Sunday at theMoore Building on Northeast 40th Street and SecondAvenue, celebrates the lifeand art of Keith Haring,whose brightly coloredpaintings of featureless people became the international logo of Best Buddies, anorganization that helps thedisabled. Haring died ofAIDS-related complications in 1990.
The Keith Haring Foundation became aware of the"Haring Miami" exhibit inJanuary, when Rosen andHernandez began advertising, said Michael Stout, anattorney representing theNew York foundation.Stout's legal partner, EricJohnson, said he asked Rosen for information aboutwhere each of the 200 piecescame from and documentation of their authenticity.
The information Rosen sentback wasn't satisfactory,Johnson said.
"It would be impossible tomount and exhibit 200 ormore works without involving the foundation," Stoutsaid on Friday. "It becameapparent that there wassomething wrong here."
Rosen insists that everything in the show is authentic.
He said that because theHaring Foundation no longer has a committee that authenticates pieces of art - only attorneys who go aftercopyright infringements -the approximately 165 unauthenticated pieces of art inthe exhibit aren't necessarily fake. They simply mightnot have been examined andauthenticated by the foundation yet.
For example, furnitureand installation art like theimages Haring drew directlyonto light posts in the 1980saren't usually authenticated."You'll never find anypiece of Keith Haring-painted T-shirt or clothing that has a foundation authentication letter," Rosen said.
To get around that idea,he posted a disclaimer at theentrance: "The art in this exhibition may be by the artistKeith Haring or from his circle of friends. . . . the ownersand publisher of this catalogand curator cannot and doesnot guarantee the authenticity of the works."
However, the exhibit hadbeen extensively advertisedas featuring the work ofKeith Haring.
In addition to removingall but the 10 authenticatedpieces of Keith Haring artwork, the court order callson Rosen and his company,Colorful Thumb, to stop distribution of and destroy allcatalogs and brochures associated with the exhibit. Rosen said the items wereno longer being distributed.