Tag: Damien Hirst

The World’s Richest Artist (Part 3 of 3)

Do not miss out the First and Second Part.


His most controversial financial creation, is a small sculpture called For the Love of God. It is the most expensive work of art ever made. In 2006, he had a platinum cast fabricated from an 18th century human skull he bought from an antique shop.

The cast was then coated with 8,600 flawless diamonds at a reported cost of $28 million. He announced an asking price of $100 million and in August 2007 he claimed he’d gotten it, in cash, from an anonymous consortium. Critics speculate that he and his business manager are a part of the secret consortium, and that the actual price fell short of $100 million. If true, it would mean nonetheless, that he still maintains an ownership stake in his most valuable piece, a stake he can always sell at a later date.

After Hirst’s announcement, the New York Times editorial scolded that he (Hirst) has gone from being an artist to being what you might call the manager of the hedge fund of Damien Hirst’s art. No artist has managed the escalation of prices for his own work quite as brilliantly as him. They also added that it is the real concept in his conceptualism, which has culminated in his most recent artistic farce: a human skull encrusted in diamonds.

The New York Times editorial didn’t register any disapproval of the crazed escalation of the art-world prices in general. The article seemed to say that it is okay for art dealers and collectors to speculate and profit from rising prices, but if an artist excels in profiting from his own work, he somehow suffers a loss of artistic integrity.


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The World’s Richest Artist (Part 2 of 3)

Do not miss out the Part 1.


It was repulsive and disgusting. In 1990 when it was shown publicly, Charles Saatchi, the world’s famous art collector, stood before it with his mouth agape in awe. He gave Hirst a $60,000 commission to produce his next work, a 14-foot tiger shark suspended in a gigantic tank of formaldehyde. It was titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living and it became his signature artwork, an icon of 1990s British conceptual art. In 2004, Saatchi would sell Hirst’s pickled shark to a New York hedge fund magnate for a rumored $12,000,000. He achieved this with the help of 120 employees in a factory-style studio, where “original Damien Hirsts” are turned out under his supervision, but usually without ever so much touching them. He has his paintings made of spin-art that take three minutes to produce and are priced at $10,000. He has series of “dot” paintings, colorful dots on canvas, which he admits he lacks the technical skills to do them properly.

In 2003, Hirst paid $15 million to buy back of his own early paintings from Charles Saatchi in order to help control supply and demand of his seminal work. Experts could not recall any artist ever making such a wise and far-sighted investment maneuver.

In September 2008, a week after the debt crisis sank Lehman Brothers that shook financial market around the world, Hirst defied doomsayers and auctioned off $198 million worth of his own artwork at Sotheby’s, exceeding even the high presale estimates. The auction was unusual because it was the first time any artist had managed the sale of his work directly to the public, cutting out the fat commissions normally enjoyed by his London and New York dealers. He got the idea from his previous experience with Pharmacy, a London restaurant he partly owned. When the restaurant closed in 2004, he personally oversaw auctioning off everything inside it, right down to matchboxes. He raised more than $20 million that way, far more than the restaurant itself worth.


Continue reading the Last Part

The World’s Richest Artist (Part 1 of 3)


Damien Hirst grew up with quite impoverished background. He never knew his biological father, and his stepfather left the family when Hirst was twelve. He, being a working student in Leeds was marked by poor academic grades and a couple of arrest for shoplifting.

As a boy, he loves drawing. But he was rejected from the Art College in Leeds. He then moved to London and for 2 years, he worked as a laborer on construction sites. On his second try, finally he was admitted to Goldsmith’s School of Art at the University of London.

During Hirst’s school years, there was a recession in the Art World, and galleries weren’t taking on new talent.

In 1988, Hirst curated and organized an independent show of Goldsmiths student works in London’s desolate Docklands area. He scraped up the cash to rent out a vacant warehouse, curated the show, and printed up the programs. He made his first mark in the art world in an organizing role, as a curator, not an artist.

The art show called Freeze, and is legendary for launching the careers of a new generation of British conceptual artist. His own contribution to the show was unremarkable. It was an assemblage of cardboard boxes glued together and decorated with house paint. He was living in a public housing at the time, and couldn’t afford to actually produce some of the art he had design on his computer. Thanks to Freeze, however, he met an art dealer who was willing to front him $6,000 to execute his first substantial work.

Hirst didn’t pander and he did what he loved. He had always been fascinated by death and decay and he spent some time working part-time in a mortuary, where he sketched dead bodies. With $6,000 in hand, he produced A Thousand Years, a large glass case with the head of a slaughtered cow lying inside it. Also sealed inside the case was a colony of flies that bred maggots in the cow’s rotting flesh. Above the severed head was an electric bug zapper.


Continue reading Part 2 and Last Part