Over the last three semesters, among the 43 lots by Hirst proposed at auction only four were bought-in and more than half were sold above the estimates reaching a total volume of sales of 15,238,960 $.
Although these results reflect an upward trend in terms of volume and value of sales in comparison with previous years, the current tendency must be analyzed with caution. First and foremost because the recent sales are far from reaching those of the period 2004-2008. According to Artnet’s Price Database, 82 of the artist’s 100 strongest auctions took place over that period, 40 of them during the sale Beautiful Inside My Head Forever organized at Sotheby’s in 2008.
Since January 1 2016, the sales that have exceeded $ 1 million have exclusively involved works created before 2008, regardless of the auction house :
- In Search of Nirvana (2007) sold by Sotheby’s London in 2016 for $ 1,744,101 (est. 1,881,603 / 2,605,297) ;
- Do You Know What I Like About You (1994) sold by Christie’s New York in 2016 for $ 1,039,500 (est. 900,000 / 1,200,000) ;
- Disintegration - The Crown of Life (2006) sold by Phillips New York in 2016 for $ 1,150,000 (est. 1,000,000 / 1,500,000) ;
- Midas and the Infinite (2007) sold by Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2017 for $ 1,016,587 (est. 836,432 / 1,093,796) ;
- The Void (2000) sold by Phillips New York in 2017 for $ 5,850,000 (est. 5,000,000 / 7,000,000).
This improvement in sales reflects the cyclical readjustment of a market that has been deeply affected by the artist’s strategy of multiplying his works, creating diverse versions of established models. This is illustrated by the sale of The Void (236 x 471 x 11 cm / 2000), one of the iconic pills’ shelves from the series Pill Cabinet; which was sold for $ 5.85 million, three times less than the record set by the work Lullaby Spring (183.3 x 275.3 x 10.2 cm / 2002) sold ten years earlier at Sotheby’s London for $ 19.2 million.
Hirst’s Venetian show will unmistakably have an impact that will be measured in the long term, in the context of a competitive market with a target audience of millennials and new billionaires for whom “owning a Hirst” marks a status of success.