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LGBTQ artifacts up for auction at the 'Pride Sale'

Pieces of LGBTQ history are coming to the auction block ahead of NYC Pride, but you can see them before they're sold.

As part of Stonewall 50, the celebration of the Stonewall Inn uprising, Swann Auction Galleries is hosting a Pride Sale on June 20 of LGBTQ artifacts with an opportunity to see them on June 15, 17-19 and on the morning of the 20th.

The special items span across history to include a handwritten note inside a book from Walt Whitman in 1875, to the original "Silence = Death" poster published by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in 1987, and much more.

Gerda Wegener's "Two Women in a Window" watercolor from 1920 (an estimated value of $15,000 to $25,000) is showcased along with a first edition of James Baldwin's "Go Tell It On The Mountain" (estimated worth between $800 and $1,200) and fine art photography from Robert Mapplethorpe, such as "Z Portfolio" from 1981 (estimated between $40,000 and $60,000) and Peter Hujar's portrait of David Wojnarowicz, "Manhattan-Night (III)" from 1985 (estimated worth of $15,000 to $25,000).

Other works from Gertrude Stein, Tom of Finland, Alice Walker and more will also be shown.

Prices range from in the hundreds to the many thousands.

"We see this as an important and unique event among the many happening this June, recognizing the historical, literary and artistic achievements of LGBTQ+ writers, artists and activists,” Nicholas Lowry, the president of Swann Auction Galleries, said. "This auction will celebrate the community and give collectors, connoisseurs and the curious an opportunity to observe and bid on a range of material from the last two centuries, with manuscripts, autographs, literature, art, photography, posters and more."

Check out the items at the following times at the galleries (104 E. 25th St., Manhattan):

  • June 15 — noon to 5 p.m.
  • June 17-19 —10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • June 20 — 10 a.m. to noon

See more at

Swann Galleries first Pride auction features Fred W.
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Swann Galleries' first Pride auction features Fred W. McDarrah's print photo in 1966 and much more.

Candy Darling's personal items

Trans icon and actress Candy Darling's personal items
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Trans icon and actress Candy Darling's personal items, such as writings, sunglasses, photographs and more, are on the auction block and on view. Darling, who was born in Forest Hills, Queens, was one of The Velvet Underground's and Andy Warhol's muses.

Signed books by major icons

Now a piece of Pride and literary history,
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Now a piece of Pride and literary history, Walt Whitman inscribed, "the author, with his love," inside his copy of "Memoranda During the War" to his close friend, Pete Doyle. It's estimated to be worth between $50,000 and $75,000.

Art by major players in LGBTQ history

David Wojnarowicz's postcard
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

David Wojnarowicz was an American artist, writer, singer and AIDS activist who was prominent in the NYC art scene in the 1980s and drew attention to civil rights and gay identity. One of his pieces of art, on a postcard, is on view.

and Keith Haring on a guitar

Artist Keith Haring's signature and famous figures are
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Artist Keith Haring's signature and famous figures are on view on a black electric guitar.

Letters from history makers like Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk wrote a letter as the "1st
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Harvey Milk wrote a letter as the "1st upfront gay mayor of any city" and signed it. It's now worth between $4,000 and $6,000.

and Allen Ginsburg

A handwritten note from Allen Ginsburg, mentioning "nuclear
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

A handwritten note from poet Allen Ginsberg, mentioning "nuclear apocalypse," is written on the back of a photo from 1977.

Pieces of history

An original poster for the first large-scale demonstration
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Swann Galleries features a poster of the national march for lesbian and gay rights in 1979, displayed on April 17, 2019, for its first auction of key Pride items in June 20th.

and historic photos

A photograph by Fred W. McDarrah, called "Sip
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

A photograph by Fred W. McDarrah, called "Sip In," shows a bartender refusing to serve gay customers in 1966. The black and white photo is estimated to be worth between $1,500 and $2,500.


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