Then and Now: Damien Hirst
Most of the "then and now" pieces I have done so far have looked at reversals of fortune from the middle of the year, but the cult of artist Damien Hirst has taken quite a turn in just three months. It was in September that my colleague Jared Paul Stern reported that Hirst raked in a staggering $200.8 million in total over his two-day solo sale at Sotheby's in London, shattering pre-sale estimates. It was just about the last time we used those types of terms on the blog to describe the art market. The fall sales brought terms like gloomy and dismal. Now it's beginning to look more like Hirst timed his tour de force art auction perfectly, Bloomberg reveals that at Art Basel Miami Beach New York art dealer Christoph Van de Weghe had eight works by Damien Hirst in his booth and sold only two, both at a discount. And at the November sales in New York, 11 out of 17 Hirst lots failed to find buyers at three auction houses. The resale market for Hirst is considered to be especially sluggish for pieces over the $1 million mark.
The article quotes Anders Petterson, founder and managing director of London-based art-market research company ArtTactic who says that oversupply resulting from Hirst's one man sale may have flooded the market and will keep prices low for a while. It's hard to feel sorry for Hirst, whose wealth and ego seem nearly boundless but he is a also an employer. The Guardian reported last month that Hirst fired up to 17 people who make the pills for his drug cabinet pieces and three people who make his butterfly paintings.