Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Barack Obama: Santa Monica Auctions the Most Famous Political Artwork Painted This Century, On May 7th, 2023.

Robert Berman, Berman Galleries also hosts a charity photo auction on May 6th.

April 26, 2023 - Santa Monica Auctions, a longtime art business in Santa Monica, will be holding a two-day auction which will include the original canvas artwork for the iconic “Hope” poster of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign for president. Two later versions of the image were created by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey, but that to be auctioned is the sole original work of art for the campaign poster. Of the later versions, one is in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, and the other sold at Heritage Auctions last year for $735,000. Robert Berman of the Berman Gallery expects to see a sale of the original for between $1 and $2 million.

“One of the reasons Barack Obama won the 2008 election was the incredible campaign the DNC put out using this first image,” Berman said in a phone interview. “I believe that piece of art was instrumental in electing the greatest president the US has ever had, in my personal opinion.”

Berman said they will also auction Fairey’s original stencil for the image. Berman, 74, called Fairey “arguably one of the most important artists in America today. And the piece I’m auctioning is the piece that started it all.”

The first day of the auction on Saturday, May 6, will feature 148 lots of photography, with 100% of the hammer for the last 28 lots to be donated to the Focus on AIDS Foundation, which is a 501c3. The next day, Berman will be auctioning the Fairey artwork plus those of several other noted artists, including 5 rare Andy Warhols as well as 2 works by David Hockney and 3 by Ed Ruscha.

Berman has been selling art in his gallery at various locations in Santa Monica since 1979. His plan on returning to Santa Monica after a brief visit ten years earlier was to move back to France in three months, “but that turned into 47 years,” he says.

Berman ran a gallery in the Broadway complex before Bergamot Station opened in 1993. He says he was one of the first tenants in the art-dedicated former warehouse complex.

The City of Santa Monica has mulled plans to redevelop Bergamot Station and the surrounding areas, all of which they own. Currently, the art business tenants are not offered leases for longer than one-year spans.


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