A Forgotten Haring

One never knows when they might find a prized work of art amid the ruins of New York City. Where the term “ruins” is concerned, what is meant is the wreckage of any telltale signs ever speaking of the city’s former edge. Its once upon a time glory, which, as everyone collectively agrees, was in the 80s. A time when artistic flourishment was at its best among the decay–the constant threat of danger, the feeling of ephemerality. This is how Haring rose from the ashes of being just another Pennsylvania boy to an immortal icon of downtown and beyond. And like any good icon–apart from Oscar Wilde–Haring had an endless breadth of work, though much of it that can never be re-created thanks to his “for the public” approach to graffiti–well before Banksy took it on as his own, documenting every aspect of his process. Haring, on the other hand, flew by the seat of his pants; if someone happened to be there with a camera to capture his work, so be it. If not, he went on. 

Such was the case in 1979, when he was barely at the start of his career and still playing that bullshit SVA game. The signature style that would be unearthed in 2007, however, was almost immediately recognizable. For Haring’s modus operandi was always there from the beginning of his output. To Haring, it was probably just another space–for though he was an intelligent man, it seems unlikely he would have cared about the unfortunately named William B. Tubby and his design of the structure in the Renaissance Revival fashion. That was in 1896. The New York of the late 70s cared not for such haute trappings–that Haring should graffiti the space is yet another testament to how much grittier New York was at that juncture. And how it has now returned to its late 1800s bourgeoisdom with all this mass eradication of any trace of uniqueness. Homogeneity must always win out in the end, after all. For the benefit of profit–or rather, the benefit of few people profiting in the name of capitalism–the city can’t have such riffraff as Haring’s art unless it’s carefully curated or its old form is marketed correctly if not totally stripped away. In this case, we realized it would be an act of almost violence to tear down the mural for the sake of improving the condo. That it would somehow be destroying a piece of history, not just to say New York history. 

The American Thread Building, a former art gallery space at one point that would later be the Hanging by an American Thread Building, is, as you might already know, historic–a landmark. That alone is probably what’s of interest to you, not just that it’s close to…where did you say worked? Anyway, it’s not just proximity to the things you need, it’s that this building has a story to tell. So rich in New York antiquity (which is becoming increasingly rare, mind you). And this space alone is almost 8,500-square feet. There’s been restaurants housed in here for fuck’s sake. You’re probably going to want to consider having at least one child. Maybe two if you’re willing to feel a bit cramped. Having an only child can be a real burden. My wife is one (I got married too young, really. We tied the knot two years ago, right out of college). Do you have a girlfriend? Of course you do, a handsome man like yourself. And with all that disposable income. I’m sure you’re beating them off with a stick. Excuse me, where was I? Have you noted the high vaulted ceilings. Twenty-six feet high, to be exact. You could even technically add in another floor, a lofted area. There’s just so much space, and so much you can do with it. And even though the formerly forgotten Haring would be worth one million dollars if it weren’t for the damned fact that we can’t remove it from this fucking wall without destroying it, it’s pretty much valueless–er, financially–in its current state. Believe me, my boss asked all the restorers if there was a way to systematically excise it. But no, The Keith Haring Foundation “recommends” putting some Plexiglas over it to better preserve its condition. Like anyone buying this place would want to go through that trouble. Anyway, you think I haven’t thought about all the ways it might be possible? I could take the money and run if I had figured out a way to extract this. But no, Haring had to be a man of the people, leaving his shit everywhere without thinking of its later value, the difficulty of making it transportable. What I’m saying is, this is just another way in which you as a buyer win. We can’t upcharge you just because it’s a hot commodity piece of artwork. Can’t increase the price tag of this triplex that you would be a fool to walk away from. I mean, you’d be getting so much more than just “an apartment.” You’d be getting a fucking magnum opus thrown in for the price of nothing. So yeah, that’s the deal with the Haring, let me show you some of the luxury features–we’ve even installed bidets in every bathroom. They’re really making a comeback in the States. By which I mean New York. Kind of like they were a thing in the 80s, come to think of it. Not that I was even coherent at that time, I’ve just made it a point of my trend studying. Everything that was popular then is coming back now, saturating every aspect. Real estate included, obviously. Haring is just another way to cash in on it.

The real estate agent has at last concluded his narration. I decide not to buy the property. It crossed my mind, sure. And it’s hard to walk away from that amount of space in this city. Yet I don’t have the stomach to do it. The antithesis of what Haring would have wanted was for his work to be exclusive to a rich asshole like me (at least I can admit it) who could afford to live in the TriBeCa of the post-00s era. He might have sooner preferred for it to remain forgotten.

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