Hirst’s Arc Survives Flood


By Sean Ballent

Last Monday and Tuesday, Sotheby’s looked like a zoo.  Thumb twiddling investors fidgeted on the ends of their seats, swamped in their own nerves and excitement, possibly even in fear of the massive formaldehyde entombed Tiger Shark that stood before them, mouth gaping, and ready to eat millions for lunch. This was the scene at British artist Damien Hirst’s “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever,” auction, which showcased 223 works, all created in the past two years. Hirst not only took a bit of a gamble by bypassing his dealers and taking his work straight to auction but also risked flooding his own market.  The big risks ended up paying big dividends and Hirst’s Arc withstood the flood.

Monday night’s session was highlighted by “The Golden Calf,” a formaldehyde maintained calf that boasts horns, hooves, and crowning disc all made of 18-karat gold. The work sold for $18.6 million to a buyer on the phone. A similar piece, “The Black Sheep With The Golden Horn,” sold for $4.7 million, right smack-dab in the middle of its estimate.

Several buyers placed bids on “The Kingdom,” a mammoth of a formaldehyde Tiger Shark that was estimated at $11.8 million but sold well above at $17.2 million.  The ever-intriguing “Fragments of Paradise,” glass front cabinets filled with manufactured diamonds, went for $9.3 million, well above its $2.9 million estimate.

Paintings with butterflies,  diamonds, scalpel blades, rosaries, crucifixes and religious medals rarely sold for less than $1 million. A dot painting “Myristoycholine Iodide” ended up underachieving probably due to multiple of dot paintings in Hirst’s last auction.

One of his more chilling works, “Devil Worshiper,” a canvas with dead flies, failed to sell, as did the work titled “Theology, Philosophy, Medicine, Justice.”

The final tally for the record-setting two days was $206 million, a figure that breaks the previous two-day record for Sotheby’s and proves that the market for art is larger then expected even in a gloomy world economy. “I love art, and this proves I’m not alone and the future looks great for everyone,” states Hirst, after one whale of an auction.

Via New York Times