No Sales for Hirst Signals End of Artistic Fortune; the Londoner's Diary

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 2, 2009 | Go to article overview

No Sales for Hirst Signals End of Artistic Fortune; the Londoner's Diary


HAS THE bottom finally fallen out of the Damien Hirst market? When Sotheby's launched its inaugural Middle East auction last month Hirst quickly recognised an opportunity to make (another) fast buck.

Sotheby's only announced its plans last year, and quick as a flash, he whipped up some decadent, luxury works to woo Middle Eastern collectors.

But at Sotheby's Doha, Qatar, sale on 18 March all of the Hirst works failed to sell. The failure is all the more galling because the three works were consigned straight from Hirst himself, not from existing collectors. The inaugural Middle East Sotheby's sale netted only [pounds sterling]2.9million despite estimates of [pounds sterling]9.5- [pounds sterling]13.5million, with only 55% of the 51 lots selling. Works by Warhol and Richter also failed to find a buyer.

The works by Hirst included Papilio Ulysses priced [pounds sterling]450,000 to [pounds sterling]600,000, which shows a whole butterf ly and was meant to especially appeal to rich Arab clients. Sotheby's breathlessly proclaimed: "In this case Hirst has chosen startling lapis-blue shades suggestive of the ancient Middle Eastern stone." Ulysses was priced [pounds sterling]550,000 to [pounds sterling]800,000. …

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No Sales for Hirst Signals End of Artistic Fortune; the Londoner's Diary
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