Colin Gleadell addresses in the Telegraph Hari Kunzru’s screed in the Guardian without ever mentioning the piece. But where Kunzru relied on melodrama and an outsider’s wishful thinking about the art market, Gleadell offers some important and considered facts. To be sure, Gleadell makes some of Kunzru’s points—that Hirst sees the value of art accruing to the artist, no the collector—better than Kunzru could because he relied on his reporting and experience, not his prejudice:
The skull has never been sold properly, so doesn’t have a real value – only the price attached to it. And the effects of the Sotheby’s sale are still being played out, as works that were bought there (perhaps with the extended credit terms that were offered) resurface on the market, selling for half or two-thirds of the price they sold for initially.
This fits well with Hirst’s intentions to reverse the normal pattern of accruing value – to buy the new work from the artist or his dealer for, say, £1,000, wait for the value to go up, and then resell for £10,000 – excluding the artist from any profit.
Hirst objected to that process, saying he believed artists should make their work more expensive at the first point of sale. “The first time you sell something is when it should cost the most,” he said. It means treating a work of art like a new car or a piece of furniture, but it is the way an artist, who does not profit from auction resales, can make the most money.
If this is what happened at the Sotheby’s sale, with Hirst pocketing the lion’s share, it has been the buyers who have suffered a loss at the point of resale, not Hirst.