LONDON///UNDER THE HAMMER: DAMIEN HIRST’S “BEAUTIFUL INSIDE MY HEAD FOREVER” AUCTION EXCEEDS ESTIMATE

September 16, 2008  |  art, Art & Commerce, Damien Hirst, London, News

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The auctioneer sweats bullets while Damien ponders his next Aston Martin (with spin art paint job, of course)...

It's been a long nite of watching mostly new money trophy hunters battle for big ticket modern art baubles at the first session of DAMIEN HIRST's much-hyped "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever" auction at SOTHEBY'S in London. Although the sale exceeded its overall $112,000,000 USD estimate to bring in a whopping $126,623,656 USD through the sale of 56 lots, the pieces that drew the biggest prices proved surprising. While the show's centerpiece, the massive 10 ton pickled bull installation, "The Golden Calf," was expected to easily exceed its auction estimate of $14,000,000 USD—$21,000,000 USD, and maybe even set a new sales record, the gavel banged at “only” the $17,960,802 USD mark. Meanwhile, the pickled shark known as "The Kingdom," which was only predicted to pull in between $7,000,000—$11,000,000 USD, wound up selling for a massive $17,242,370 USD. Other "stained glass" butterfly and skull spin art pieces also easily exceeded their not-so-conservative estimates proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that even with the recent banking industry collapse the modern art market is still wearing its recession-proof Kevlar vest with pride ("Can you believe this Lehman shit" was the banter of the eve). If that weren’t enough, 167 more Hirst lots will go on the block tomorrow in two additional day sales for a grand total of 223 pieces in all. If Mr Hirst’s master plan was to indeed prove that the gallery system is to established artists what the record industry is to music, he’s succeeded wildly (his longtime gallerist Larry Gagosian was notably absent from the proceedings, while other starmakers like Tony Shafrazi sat front and center). Whether today’s success can be replicated in the future by both Hirst and other artists with smaller PR staffs and less brightly lit halos remains to be seen. In the meantime, it’s a fun ride till the cart goes off the track. HAVE A LOOK:

"ART IS WHAT YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH"

—Andy Warhol 

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What the inside of a mint looks like...

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The punters...

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The Russian billionaire contingent just phoned it in...

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The cheap seats...

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..."going twice"...

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"Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a dead shark."

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"Wot? Me worry?"

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