Original Shepard Fairey 'HOPE' from Obama's presidential run sells for record-setting $735,000

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Original Shepard Fairey 'HOPE' from Obama's presidential run sells for record-setting $735,000
Shepard Fairey (b. 1970), HOPE (Barack Obama), 2008 Hand-finished collage, stencil, and acrylic on heavy paper laid on canvas, 68-1/2 x 46 inches. Estimate: $300,000 - $500,000.

DALLAS, TX.- Shepard Fairey’s iconic HOPE collage realized a new record Thursday at Heritage Auctions when one of three original works made for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign sold for $735,000.

Of the innumerable iterations of Fairey’s once-inescapable posters made to support Obama’s first presidential run, there are but three original large-scale, mixed-media stenciled collages made by the artist. One is in a private collection. Another resides in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.

And the third, from the assemblage of a major American Art collector, now has a new home after it set an auction record in Heritage’s Modern & Contemporary Art Signature® Auction, which realized a total of $2,977,438, surpassing the sale’s pre-auction estimate.

“We were honored to offer this majestic, stunning and important work – the image that defined an entire movement and a presidency,” says Heritage Auctions’ Taylor Curry, Director of Modern & Contemporary Art. “I can’t overstate how important the image is, and bidders responded accordingly. Heritage is absolutely thrilled to have been part of this historic, record-setting sale.”

HOPE is the work The New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl called “the most efficacious American political illustration since Uncle Sam Wants You”; a work, wrote the critic, that provided “a thrill of concerted purpose, guarded against fatuity by coolly candid deliberation.”

Fairey, of course, was a graphic-design star and revered activist long before his HOPE spread across the country. As his Obey Giant website notes, he has been “manufacturing quality dissent since 1989,” when he created the equally iconic “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” street art while a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. The sticker and graffiti campaign, born out of the skateboarding scene, gave rise to his Obey empire.

Another exciting moment arrived when Hedda Sterne’s 1982 work Vertical-Horizontal, No. 7, from the G.E. Corporate Art Collection, sold for $275,000, obliterating the painting’s high estimate. This continues Sterne’s recent ascension in popularity among client-collectors at auction.

“Hedda Sterne was a prolific female painter who remained at the nexus of the 20th century’s most influential artistic schools,” Curry says. “We were delighted to bring this much sought-after work to auction.”

Other top lots included In Orange with Black (Moderne Enfin), a striking 1978 work by Abstract Expressionist artist Robert Motherwell that realized $100,000; Wayne Thiebaud’s Meat Counter, 1960, which sold for $87,500; Sam Gilliam’s Sound of the Guitar, 1993, which also sold for $87,500; and James Ensor’s Portrait of Claude Bernieres (Quelques couleurs pour Claude Bernières), 1939, which realized $81,250.

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