With the evolution of the street art movement in the early 1980s in New York City, Richard Hambleton was the pioneer of the commercial street art boom alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. The establishment art world was hesitant to accept these new artists and their art. Today, street art is not only one of the most popular and commercially successful subgenres of art, but it is also one of the most critically acclaimed subgenres.
In 1983 the International Herald Tribune reported on the booming street art movement and stated that you’d have to pay $10,000 for a Basquiat, or $15,000 for either a Haring or Hambleton. Hambleton was at the forefront of the street art movement pioneering the genre. As evident in today’s art market, Hambleton is no longer credited with the same recognition as his contemporaries, including Basquiat and Haring.
Last month Sotheby’s held an online sale titled “Public Intervention: Art of the Street” consisting
of 43 lots by 16 different artists. With pricing estimates ranging from $1,000 to $200,000, Sotheby’s is describing the sale as a “first-of-its-kind” auction aimed at celebrating the “first generation of New York graffiti and street artists of the 1980s.” One of the more notable pieces included in this recent sale was the last work of art created by Hambleton before he passed away.
Sotheby’s auction was anchored by the estate of Richard Hambleton’s sale of a large selection of the late artist’s work. Having built a brand on leaving fans and critics in shock and awe with his art, Sotheby’s described the artist as enigmatic and credited him for his “haunting shadow portraits” that “helped define the urban interventionist spirit of street art in New York during the early 1980s.”
Beyond Sotheby’s recent newsworthy auction, Untitled-1, an art trading and copyright business founded by Andy Valmorbida, is actively aiding in the renaissance of Hambleton’s name, reinvigorating the market for Hambleton’s work.
As the sole owners of the Hambleton copyright and proprietors of over 250 Hambleton originals, Untitled-1 is spearheading multiple creative projects with the legendary artist’s work. First, Valmorbida and Untitled-1 have created a fully immersive and dynamic large-scale exhibit aptly titled, the ‘Richard Hambleton Experience.’ Further, Untitled-1 is producing authenticated limited edition print runs of the artist’s original artwork.
With these projects, among others, Valmorbida and Untitled-1 are brilliantly opening up artistic products and experiences for art admirers as well as specifically for Hambleton enthusiasts who may have not had access to Hambleton’s art before.
Untitled-1’s limited edition print runs, sold via select distributors, range in price from a couple of thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars depending on edition size, set size, and image size. These prices, however, are still a fraction of what it would cost to own a Richard Hambleton original, thereby democratizing access to Hambleton’s fans.
Reaching the mid-level market, Valmorbida is continuing his habit of opening up the art world as Valmorbida’s introduction onto the art scene was via pop-up art shows, another means of creating more access to the industry.