Colin Gleadell’s Wrap-Up of the Hirst Sale Goes Deeper
The Hirst sale has received more press coverage than any recent art market event. Yet most of the stories repeat the same few facts without delving any further. Colin Gleadell–who writes one of the best art market columns (for the Daily Telegraph)–covers the sale in the Wall Street Journal. A selection of Gleadell’s bon mots:
§ The sale was also designed to open up his market to potential buyers who might never have thought of buying his work — until, that is, they’d been zapped by the publicity machine.
§ Most of the well-heeled crowd had come just to watch what promised to be an extraordinary spectacle, a performance artwork in itself. This was an event that was going to sort out the market traditionalists, with their taste for rarity and the historically significant, from the brash new global billionaires for whom brand status is more important.
§ The biggest buyer in terms of lots was Sotheby’s Russian-speaking Alina Davey from the private client services department. She bought nine lots and spent £12.9 million, presumably for Russian clients.
§ Amid all the back-slapping, whistling and cheering (mainly, it has to be said, from Sotheby’s employees) there was little time to ponder that estimates had been set about 30% lower than retail according to the London trader and art-fund manager Micky Tiroche. While half the lots had sold above those estimates, just as many had not. For those who were checking against gallery prices, more than a handful of works had sold at relative bargain levels.
§ Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s world-wide head of contemporary art, believes the achievement of the Hirst sale is unique, and places the artist firmly among the greats of the postwar era. ( . . . ) “I also believe the provenance of this sale will be seen as an important one in the future. It was Damien Hirst at his most ambitious.”
Damien Hirst Skips the Middleman (The Wall Street Journal)