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Monday, Dec 09, 2019

Priceless? Or the Damien Hirst heist?

There’s a lot of ruckus about the kind of money that Hirst has piled up in his ‘clearance sale’ (he may have well called it a garage sale). Mondy Thapar writes.

india Updated: Sep 16, 2008 20:40 IST
Mondy Thapar
Mondy Thapar
Hindustantimes
         

It probably isn’t anybody from Lehman Brothers who bought any of Damien Hirst’s works at the Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday. For starters, the night’s total sales came to £ 70.5 million — that’s Rs 588 crore — including the buyer’s premium of 12 per cent. If the British artist was in a generous mood, he could have bailed out the poor credit-crunchwallas at Lehman and Merrill Lynch who got busy selling office furniture the same day. (He wasn’t in a generous mood.)

So what did the non-struggling artist-creator of ‘meaningful schlok-art’ like The Kingdom (read: a shark in a formaldehyde tank that got Hirst £ 9.56 million on Tuesday) have to say? “The market for art is bigger than anyone knows. I love art and this proves I am not alone.” Marx — both Kark and Groucho — couldn’t have put it better.

The Golden Calf — a visual depiction of the Biblical idol — was sold for the highest price: £ 10.3 million. (Hear this: it was estimated to sell for £ 12 million might.)

There’s a lot of ruckus about the kind of money that Hirst has piled up in his ‘clearance sale’ (he may have well called it a garage sale). But let’s face it. Better to blow up money on a giant zebra for the living room decor than to tank the money in silly, non-aesthetic real estate.

But is the big money in art not going to destroy all things nice and beautiful and, er, arty? Don’t be silly and so 20th century. Remember that Michelangelo was big-time pusher. And a big-time rich man. So...