With Only A Few Hours Until the Sale . . . .
Late on Friday, Josh Baer sent out his newsletter closing with the prediction that the Hirst sale would not only appear to succeed but would in actuality succeed by bringing new buyers into the Hirst market. (Can these buyers be said to be involved in the art market? Probably not.)
Alberto Mugrabi, a Manhattan dealer and collector, said he had been getting calls from people who have never bought a work of art before, asking for his advice. “It will open up his market,” said Mugrabi, who owns about 150 works by Hirst and will be attending the sale. “This is a one-time thing. But if he tries it again soon it could be a disaster.”
But what of the world financial crisis taking place simultaneously with the sale? How will that effect the bidding? Given that the buyer’s not expected to be heavily invested in American broker-dealers or banks, the sale will probably not be hurt by the market swoon. But the publicity blackout may actually work to Hirst’s benefit. So far the sale has been a huge PR bonanza for Hirst. The artist has been playing the drama to the hilt by encouraging reporters to quote him on the possibility of a disaster. With three major financial stories overshadowing the auction, a failure won’t get publicized. A success will eventually be recognized and it will add to Hirst’s reputation. Finally, the aftershocks of today’s markets should also encourage Hirst/Dunphy to follow Mugrabi’s advice and not try something like this any time soon.
Damien Hirst Goes for Broke at Sotheby’s (International Herald Tribune)