An Original ‘Hope’ Poster by Shepard Fairey Could Fetch Over $300,000 at Auction

Heritage is offering the epoch-making artwork on May 14.

Shepard Fairey, HOPE (Barack Obama) (2008). Courtesy Heritage Auctions,

One of the most recognizable images connected with a modern political figure, street artist Shepard Fairey’s 2008 Hope poster, showing the face of then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, captured the “hope and change” candidacy of the man who would become America’s first Black president. 

There are just three originals; Heritage Auctions is offering one of them in its May 14 Modern and contemporary art auction, with an opening bid of some $250,000 (which, with the house’s fees, would already be $312,500). One of the others was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., while the other is in private hands, according to the house. Measuring nearly six feet-high, the piece is a hand-finished collage, stencil, and acrylic.

“We are honored to offer this important work at auction—this image defined an entire movement and Barack Obama’s presidency,” said Taylor Curry, Heritage’s director of modern and contemporary art in New York.

Shepard Fairey. Photo Courtesy of

Shepard Fairey. Photo Courtesy of

Another version, a mixed-media stenciled collage, achieved $950,000 at Santa Monica Auctions in May 2023, falling short of its $1 million low estimate but setting the artist’s current auction record. Another, also a hand-finished collage, stencil, and acrylic, sold at Heritage in May 2022, surpassing its $500,000 high estimate to fetch $735,000. Heritage’s example originally snapped up at an Arts for Life Benefit Auction, in East Hampton, New York, in 2008, to a private buyer who then sold it at Sotheby’s New York in 2020, when it obliterated its $70,000 high estimate to sell for $600,800. 

To create the image, Fairey adapted an Associated Press photo by Mannie Garcia, which he placed atop layered newspaper imagery then overlaid it with the stenciled and acrylic that created the image of the then-Senator and the word “hope.” Fairey settled a copyright infringement lawsuit out of court.

“Fairey created the most efficacious American political illustration since ‘Uncle Sam Wants You,’” New Yorker critic Peter Schjehldahl wrote in 2009 on the occasion of an ICA Boston show of the artist.

Of the same show, Artnet Magazine’s Ben Davis wrote that “In the political realm, the Obama campaign has inspired hopes, demands, and even activism that go far beyond President Obama’s policy prescriptions, which are, after all, pretty limited. If Fairey’s success has something of this effect for the art world, that’s a good thing.”

Heritage’s sale also includes works by artists including Fernando Botero, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Bernar Venet.

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