Damien Hirst art entered the public conscious in the early 1990s, and today he is undoubtedly one of the most recognised contemporary artists in the world. He enjoys huge popularity amongst art collectors and astute investors alike, all intrigued by his prolific career.
Frank Dunphy, Hirst’s business manager of 15 years, recently announced he would be selling much of his art collection at Sotheby’s in London. The collection of over 200 objects gathered over the course of 30 years by Dunphy and his wife is thought to be valued at between £6 and £8.4 million.
On the day, 99 out of 100 works were sold, and while estimates were set low to encourage bids, the Telegraph noted that bargain-hunting dealers were sorely disappointed. For example, the circular Smashing Yellow Ball at Peace Painting doubled its estimate to sell for £298,000.
There’s no doubt the Damien Hirst art market still has a healthy level of demand, and interestingly, auctioneer Oliver Barker pointed out this recent sale saw a new audience in attendance. None of Hirst’s most well-known collectors were among the bidders – such as the Mugrabi family which has invested heavily in Hirst’s work, or his dealers Gagosian and White Cube.
Here are a few reasons why so many collectors are keen to buy Damien Hirst art…
First coming into public attention in the 90’s, Hirst shows no signs of slowing down in his work. Many collectors are keen to acquire Damien Hirst art, and this is still very much a possibility, regardless of his status as a contemporary icon and established artist.
In fact, art advisor Todd Levin argues the prolific artist had “astonishing prescience early on in almost single-handedly packaging and pushing forward the YBA generation.”
Hirst has a relentlessly enterprising, unapologetically commercial approach to art, much like celebrated pop artists Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. As a result, you can find Damien Hirst art available at a range of price points, despite his fame.
Dunphy was instrumental some of the highest profile Damien Hirst art sales, and once told his client, “An artwork is only worth what the next guy is going to pay for it.”
Landmark events included the 2004 fire sale from Pharmacy, Hirst’s London restaurant, where a range of random objects including urinals were sold for a grand total of £11 million.
However, it was Sotheby’s 2008 auction ‘Beautiful Inside My Head Forever’ which really shook the investment art world. A total of 218 brand new works were brought directly to auction, cutting out Hirst’s high-profile dealers and challenging established art market conventions. The auction made an incredible £111 million, more than ten times the previous record for a one-artist auction, and remains a defining moment in contemporary art history. Safe to say, Damien Hirst art consistently enjoys healthy demand, which bodes well for future resale.
“Whether or not the works [by Hirst] are historic cannot be denied at this point,” Levin states. “He is important as an artist who catalyzed a generation of artists.”
Damien Hirst art has already proved to be a savvy investment asset for various collectors. Enchanted by the artist’s early “animal” installations, Charles Saatchi funded the creation of The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1992). He spent a total of £50,000 on the formaldehyde-preserved shark, a high price for any work by an emerging name. However, Saatchi sold the artwork around a decade later for £6.5 million.
As a central figure in the Young British Artist movement and a 1995 Turner Prize winner, Damien Hirst is widely recognised as a significant part of modern British art history.
Damien Hirst is a central figure in the Young British Artist movement, known for their use of shocking concepts and unconventional materials that challenge the prevailing definition of art. In fact, the group has been cited as contributing to the establishment of Tate Modern in 2000, now the most-attended modern art museum in the world.
Hirst produces a wide range of artworks, including installations, sculptures, paintings and drawings. Taking inspiration from historical and contemporary sources, he constantly challenges the boundaries between art, science and religion.
Jeff Koons and Tracey Emin are among the many artists who cite Hirst as an inspiration, and the public is fascinated with his work too. We always tell gallery visitors to invest with their eyes, and Hirst’s artworks rarely fails to draw viewers in and capture their imaginations.
Dunphy worked closely with Hirst from 1995 to 2010, playing a key role in the artist’s meteoric rise. For this reason, collectors were keen to see if his collection contained some of the best Damien Hirst art ever created. Considering the pair’s longstanding relationship, it would have made sense.
For anyone looking to invest in art by Damien Hirst, or any other artist for that matter, this understanding and appreciation is essential to finding art that brings you aesthetic enjoyment and potential investment value.
If you are looking to invest in Damien Hirst art, please pay us a visit at Maddox Gallery. We’re honoured to hold works by the established artist, and our Sotheby’s-trained art consultants are on hand to tell you more about the pieces we carry.
Written by James Nicholls, Managing Director and Curator, Maddox Gallery.