Entertainment behind the scenes
Record Hirst art sale — should we laugh or cry?
Think what you like about the art – and several leading critics question whether it is art at all – there are enough people desperate to get their hands on an original Damien Hirst to ensure that his recent, audacious sale of 223 new works at Sotheby’s was a resounding success.
Commentators have huffed and puffed about the insanity of it all — Damien Hirst, reproducing the kind of works he has been creating for years, yet still able to earn a staggering 111 million pounds (minus commission to the auctioneer) to add to his already sizeable fortune.
But to criticise the 43-year-old, the contemporary art world’s most famous figure, is nigh impossible. After all, if people are willing to pay over eight or nine million pounds for an animal in a tank of formaldehyde, it’s not his fault.
“It is as if Hirst, tongue-in-cheek, were making a false form of his own work — and doing it deliberately to make fools of the sort of people naive and vulgar enough to spend thousands on a jewel-encrusted mobile telephone,” wrote critic Andrew Graham-Dixon in the Sunday Telegraph.
Hirst said he wanted to make the art world more “democratic” by going straight to the auction house rather than through galleries and dealers who take a much larger slice of the pie. Democracy for millionaires, that is.