Sotheby’s is prepping for the Fall when it will have an interesting collection of 200 works from Frank Dunphy, who is best known as the former business manager to Damien Hirst. It is no surprise that Dunphy is selling through Sotheby’s with whom he organized the (in)famous Beautiful Inside My Head Forever sale a decade before. The Dunphy sale, which includes a great deal of material from the YBA artists, comes as bookend to the decade of Hirst’s muted market in the wake of the big bang of the BIMHF sale. Here’s Sotheby’s on the sale:
In September, Sotheby’s is offering the extensive art collection of Lorna and Frank Dunphy – former business manager, mentor and ‘partner in crime’ to Damien Hirst. Behind all great creative geniuses are people who help unleash their brilliance – for Damien Hirst this is widely acknowledged to have been Frank. The collection of over 200 pieces tells the story behind Hirst’s stratospheric rise, and of the world of the YBAs which Frank and Lorna were catapulted into following Frank’s appointment in 1995.
Irish born Frank started his career in show business in London in the 1960s. After turning down the chance to manage a then unknown group who would later become known as Led Zeppelin, it was his meeting with Damien Hirst at The Groucho Club – arranged by Hirst’s mother- that propelled him into the heart of the 1990s art scene.
At the core of the collection are a number of works by Damien Hirst – most made especially for the Dunphys, which together chronicle the work and the play behind their adventures together. Some were given to Frank when he was ill, others are birthday presents. There’s even a cigarette lighter customised with Hirst’s signature butterflies, funny sketches penned on the back of restaurant menus and a spin painting the couple made with the artist in his studio.
However, overall the collection is quite varied, with everything from Warhol to Fontana, private commissions, presents from Rachel Whiteread and Tracey Emin, sculptures of gorillas and broad beans – all reflecting their exuberant personality. Numerous pieces by the YBAs speak to the spirit of the times. These artists made up Frank and Lorna’s world, with long nights spent together at their favourite haunt The Groucho Club (where the Dunphys held their wedding reception). Estimates range from over £500,000 to below £100.
The sale is called Yellow Ball – a nod not only to Frank and Lorna’s first meeting around a snooker table, but also to a circular butterfly painting, Smashing Yellow Ball at Peace Painting included in the sale which was given to the pair when Frank and Hirst ended their partnership. (Frank and Lorna has even toyed with the idea of having a yellow ball shaped carriage at their wedding, but settled instead for a gold car with a shag pile carpet!)