Hirst Art Sale Shock

The Independent reports that on 15 September Damien Hirst has a surprise in store for the art world and perhaps also for himself. At the New Bond Street Sotheby's he will mount an audacious two-day art auction, entitled Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, of 223 artworks, made by himself and to be sold by himself. This is a money-spinning feat by a living artist on a scale never attempted by an auction house or an art gallery. For this reason alone there are mutters along Bond Street that Hirst's sale will be the moment that his bubble bursts. Damien Hirst is the richest artist in British history. He lives high off the hog in 300 rooms at the violently Gothic Toddington Manor in Gloucestershire, where he plans to work less and, eventually, show off his stuff to the world, like a stately home owner – "I'm no longer an enfant terrible, I'm an old-age pensioner," he said this month. If his Sotheby's gamble succeeds, he will add £65m-plus to his pile, just like that. The bid looks dangerously greedy but, according to Hirst's people, it isn't at all. The Sunday Times Rich List credits him with more than £100m, which Hirst confirmed 18 months ago was about right; others think his value is more in the region of £500m and the outcome at Sotheby's is peanuts to him. He is so wealthy, claim his friends, that he has spent £100m on art in the past nine months alone. His spree began with a £16m Francis Bacon self-portrait at Sotheby's New York last November, which joins three others at Toddington. Opinion is that his September sale will pay off any outstanding debts to the auction house. Sotheby's says Hirst decided on a grand auction two years ago, following his £11m mass sale of art in 2004 from Pharmacy, his Notting Hill restaurant. "Auction is a very democratic way to sell," Sotheby's quotes Hirst. "It feels like a natural evolution for contemporary art. Although there's risk involved, I embrace the challenge of selling my work in this way." For more information on the art sale on 15-16 September at Sotheby's, 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1, visit (For full source and full article click the Headline). Irish Art