With five digital drawings from legendary pop artist Keith Haring currently up for sale as NFTs, auction house Christie’s has teamed with connected fashion brand MNTGE to release a physical patch inspired by one of the works—with a tech twist of its own.
The Christie’s auction, Keith Haring: Pixel Pioneer, is currently underway with digital paintings created on a Commodore Amiga computer in 1987 and minted as Ethereum NFTs by the Keith Haring Foundation. MNTGE has converted one of the drawings (“Keith Haring: Untitled #2” from April 16, 1987) into a vintage-style patch.
Equipped with near-field communication (NFC) technology, each patch has an embedded chip that’s tied to a unique Ethereum NFT that takes the form of a blockchain-based digital certificate or proof of ownership.
While estimates for the auction—which is open for bidding through September 20—range from $220,000 to $500,000 per work, the price point of the patches is eminently more accessible at just $39.99 apiece.
Beginning today, the patches are available for a limited time via the MNTGE website.
The patches form an extension of MNTGE’s most recent drop. Entitled Patchwork, it featured a collection of NFT patches redeemable for physical versions, complete with embedded NFC chips. Each was custom-designed by one of 11 contemporary artists.
Christie's and @keithharingfdn are thrilled to be working with @mntge_io to launch a physical patch based off of one of Haring's digital artworks created on an Amiga computer from 1987. pic.twitter.com/eJNjOa5A8A
— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) September 14, 2023
The partnership with Christie’s and the Haring Foundation had its origin in July when MNTGE hosted a dinner for the Christie’s Art + Tech Summit, gifting guests exclusive NFC chip-enabled jackets.
“It is truly a rare opportunity when you get the call to be part of a project launch with the Keith Haring Studio,” MNTGE co-founder Nick Adler told Decrypt. “The natural synergy between all three of our teams made this collaborative project come together seamlessly, and we couldn’t be more excited to see the exclusive patch become a reality.”
Speaking to Decrypt earlier this month about the digital art auction, Nicole Sales Giles—Christie’s Vice President and Director of Digital Art Sales—quipped that if Haring were alive today, she believes that he would “be a strong proponent of bridging the Web3 and traditional art worlds.”
“Haring’s art appeals to such a wide audience,” she added, expressing confidence that “this sale will continue to introduce more traditional art collectors to Web3—and vice versa.”
With the addition of the patches, the effect may become even more pronounced. The pricing also aligns with Haring’s belief that “art is for everybody.”
Even while he was lauded by the establishment, Haring continued to chalk versions of his celebrated designs on the New York subway so they could be enjoyed by a wider demographic than that of the traditional gallery-goer.
“Keith Haring defined a generation where art spoke to the masses. His New York City subway drawings in the 1980s brought art into the streets, and his aesthetic became iconic,” added Sales Giles. “His ability to bring the art world to everyone made him a pioneer of his era.”