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UK artist creates history

world Updated: Sep 16, 2008 02:18 IST
Renuka Narayanan

An auction of 223 works by ‘sensationalist’ British artist Damien Hirst, some of whose less spectacular works were exhibited for a day in New Delhi last month, is expected to notch at least £65 million.

If the auction touches £65 million it will be a record sale for any auction of works by just one artist, says art auctioneers Sotheby’s.

Called Beautiful Inside My Head Forever it is the first time an artist has sold so many works outright by auction, bypassing the gallery and dealer route. Only Pablo Picasso had the guts to do this in 1918, dumping his dealer Leonce Rosenberg with the famous remark (in French), The dealer — that’s the enemy.

Opening Monday night in London, the two-day auction was announced a month ago by Sotheby’s. It includes works like The Golden Calf — a real animal preserved in formaldehyde with a golden disc on its head and hooves and horns of 18-carat solid gold, expected to sell for £12 million.

A pickled shark is estimated to fetch £4 million and a case of used cigarette butts, more than £1 million.

Hirst has reportedly £100 million worth of unsold stock in storage. In May 2007, Hirst’s White Cube gallery priced his work For The Love of God at £50 million.

It was an 18th century human skull in platinum, of which only the teeth were original, inlaid with 8,601 diamonds totalling more than a 1,000 carats. It was bought eventually in August 2008 by a consortium that included Hirst himself.