Biggest auction of works by a single artist-world
record set by Damien Hirst
LONDON, UK -- Multi-millionaire artist Damien Hirst
wildly exceeded expectations with a sale of f pickled sharks,
butterfly paintings and other pieces (218 items) for $200,752,179
(€140,160,487)-setting the world record for the Biggest
auction of works by a single artist.
Photo: British artist Damien Hirst poses
with his work 'The Incredible Journey' at an auction house
in London / AP Photo-Sang Tan
turmoil engulfing global financial markets did nothing to
dampen prices as moHirst took a risk by offering more than
200 pieces of new work through Sotheby's rather than a gallery.
He said it was a more democratic way to sell art — and it
also spared him a gallery's hefty commission.
According to the sale's organizers, this
was the first time an artist had sold his work directly, bypassing
art dealers who typically collect up to 40.0% of an auction's
sales in commission fees.
But if buyers had stayed away, Hirst's global
brand would have been tarnished. More than 700 prospective
buyers packed the showroom for each of the three auction sessions.
Others around the world bid by phone.
Photo: "The Kingdom," a tiger shark preserved
in formaldehyde, sold for $17 million in the first session
Monday evening. / AP Photo/Sang Tan
"Fragments of Paradise," a confection of stainless
steel, glass and manufactured diamonds, sold for almost $9.4
million, five times its pre-sale estimate.
Two of Hirst's butterfly paintings were sold
for charity, for a total of more than $2.9 million.
"The Golden Calf" — an embalmed calf
with golden hooves and horns — fetched $18.5 million. / AFP
"Banks fall over, art triumphs," former Royal
Academy chief Norman Rosenthal told the Guardian newspaper.
The most successful of the so-called "Young British
Artists" who came to prominence in the 1990s, Hirst is famous
for eye-catching works redolent of death and decay — pickled
animals, rotting cows' heads, diamond-encrusted skulls.
He employs a large staff to help him make his
works, and some critics had suggested his prolific output
was devaluing the work.
There was little sign of that Monday.
Hirst, 43, said the results of the sale
showed "the market is bigger than anyone knows." "I love art,
and this proves I'm not alone and the future looks great for
everyone," he said.
Last year the artist, who works with a team
of about 200, sold a platinum skull encrusted with 8,601 diamonds
for 50 million pounds in a private sale. It is thought to
be the world's most expensive piece of contemporary art.
Auction houses have been appealing
to "recession-proof" buyers in the Middle East and Russia,
where record oil prices have boosted already massive fortunes,
along with the super-rich in emerging economies such as India.
The previous record for a sale dedicated to a
single artist was set in 1993 for works by Picasso, which
went for a total of $20m (£11m at 2008 prices).
Wednesday, September 17, 2008