ART ATTACK; Choice Selection: Damien Hirst's Limited-Edition Spot Print (Top), and Works by (from Left) Jake and Dinos Chapman, Jonathan Yeo and Natasha Law
Byline: ALICE BB
LAST week's contemporary art sale at Sotheby's smashed all Europeanrecords, making a whopping [pounds sterling]95million.
Despite the shakiness of other markets, and gloom-mongers forecastingrecession, the contemporary art market is boomingand it is not just serious collectors who are buying into the trend. Forfashionistas, buying a 'hot' artist's work is much like obtaining the latestmust-have Prada handbag or a couture dress: it is all about procuring somethingbeautiful and rare which will be the envy of your friends, with the addedbenefit of being an investment piece.
'Iconic pictures by well-known artists are making more than ever,' says HenryWyndham, chairman of Sotheby's. 'People see it as a more solid place to puttheir money.'
Indeed non-doms (wealthy foreigners who live in the UK but say their home, ordomicile, is elsewhere), Russians who made a killing on the energy industry andcelebrities including Claudia Schiffer and Brangelina are all collecting likemad, buying into blue-chip names including Warhol, Freud and Bacon.
The brilliantly marketed Young British Artists (YBAs)Damien Hirst, Gary Hume and Tracey Eminhave all grown up, and so have their prices. But buying big-name contemporaryart isn't exclusively a rich man's game. .
Eleven Fine Art, a Belgraviabased gallery, opened a show last week entitledPrinted Matter. Many of the original YBAs are represented, including Hirst,Hume and Jake and Dinos Chapman. But amazingly the most expensive piece in thewhole show costs just [pounds sterling]9,500 a spot picture by Hirst.
'If this was a unique Damien Hirst painting on canvas, then you wouldn't getmuch change out of three-quarters of a million dollars,' says Charlie Phillips,the groovy spectacled owner of Eleven Fine Art. 'But this picture costs just afraction of that because it's a silk-screen print and an edition of 75.'
In other words, it's like buying off-the peg Dior as opposed to couture. Sure,you're not the only person in the world with that exact dress, but at leastyou're getting a slice of the John Galliano action.
Also showing is a print of a lioness by Olli and Suzi for a bargain [pounds sterling]200, and ascreenprint portrait of George W. Bush by Jonathan Yeo. 'I wanted it to looklike a painting from afar,' says Yeo. 'It's not until you get up close that yourealise George's face is a print of a collage made from tornup scraps fromsmutty magazines.'
The picture is a two-fingered response to the Bush Library in Texas, which lastyear backed out of commissioning Yeo to paint a portrait of the President. Theprint is an edition of 150 and is selling for just [pounds sterling]1,500, whereas Yeo'soriginal collages (he has a sale coming up this summer) cost from [pounds sterling]10,000 to[pounds sterling]30,000, and his portraits go for up to [pounds sterling]40,000. …