Has the Art Market Correction Given Jay Jopling a Jolt?
The Times of London tries to use the art market and Damien Hirst as a pretext for running a profile of Jay Jopling. But the bulk of the story is about his personality and social life, especially since he’s been linked to a young singer, Lily Allen. But when you string the beads together, the story remains quite positive about Jopling’s position in London’s important Contemporary Art world:
“The big issue now is not who Jay’s next girlfriend is,” says Sir Norman Rosenthal, the former exhibitions secretary of the Royal Academy who put the YBAs on the international map with the brilliant Sensation show in 1997. “It is how all these players, and the art world in general, cope with the new financial world. In a funny way, in contemporary art terms I don’t think we’ve quite come out of the 1990s yet, but I think we are about to. Jay has been the archetypal art dealer-player of the 1990s in London. It’s a new challenge for him and for every aspect of the cultural world.”
The darker clouds on the horizon for Jopling now are financial. Last year the boom in contemporary art that he had surfed and done much to drive since the early 1990s came to an abrupt halt. Auction results reached a plateau and then nosedived. The last hurrah came at Sotheby’s on September 15, the very day that the collapse of Lehman Brothers seemed to usher in a new Dark Age for the City.
That night Jopling watched Hirst sell £111 million worth of freshly minted spot paintings, cabinets, dead butterfly collages and pickled animals direct to collectors at auction. Jopling, like Larry Gagosian, the American he aspires to succeed as the world’s pre-eminent contemporary art dealer, was cut out of the process altogether. White Cube was reduced to chasing work by its own artist to shore up the value of its Hirst holdings, bidding on 20 of the 56 lots and securing at least four.
It was an electrifying occasion, the art world’s wealthiest collectors fiddling while Rome burned, but it also marked the high-water mark of Hirst’s bankability.
This is not good news for Jopling. In September The Art Newspaper reported that White Cube was sitting on a “Hirst mountain” of more than 200 unsold works. The gallery denied the report. In addition it is still not clear whether Jopling was one of the investors who, it is claimed, bought into For the Love of God, Hirst’s notorious £50million diamond skull, in 2007. Some estimates suggest that he may own as much as a third of it.
Jay Jopling: Crunch Time for Mr. Brit Art (The Times of London)