Crack is Wack is arguably Keith Haring‘s best-known work. It might also be the most famous mural in New York City. For one, it probably has more daily views than any other mural in NYC, due to its location next to passing cars on the Harlem River Drive (in Manhattan at 128th Street).
How Crack is Wack came to be is not well-known. Nor is the fact that the mural is not the original version.
Benny was one of the major catalysts for Crack is Wack. Benny was Haring’s young, gifted studio assistant in the mid-1980s who became addicted to crack. Haring and the rest of his studio were close with him and they tried everything to help him kick his addiction. This was, according to Haring, an incredibly distressing experience for everyone involved. Benny had no health insurance, so they initially called cocaine hotlines and Benny started to see a counselor, but that didn’t work. Haring’s studio also went to emergency rooms to try to get him into a guided program, but no hospital would take him.