Trend in sight

Hirst after Hirst

Art Market | For a period of time the most expensive artist on the market, the last several years have seen a decline in YBA leader Damien Hirst’s prices while the number of unsold works in auction has risen. A study dividing the 422 Sotheby’s New York, Hong Kong and London sales of his work from 2005-2016 into three periods – excluding multiples and editions – shows a significant deterioration in the artist’s market value.

Damien Hirst devant l’une de ses Spot Paintings © Andrew Testa pour The New York Times
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Damien Hirst devant l’une de ses Spot Paintings
© Andrew Testa pour The New York Times

The high-water mark of the 2000’s

In the 2005-2009 period, 70% of auctioned works were sold for more than their high estimate (200 of 286 lots) while only 6% went unsold (17 works). In 5 years, Sotheby’s sold the equivalent of $284,867,59, 11% more than the high estimate sum of $256,175,380. During this same period, the artist’s work attracted 75 bids over a million dollars. The most prolific years were 2007/2008, with 11 million+ sales in 2007, including the work Lullaby Spring sold for $19,230,922, and in 2008, 60 bids in the millions including The golden calf, sold for $18,603,218. Note that 69% of this colossal sales figure is accounted for by his direct market sale ‘Damien Hirst – Beautiful Inside My Head Forever’ which individually tallied 49 bids surpassing the million-dollar mark.

2010-2013 trend reversal

The pattern between 2010 and 2013 contrasts with the earlier period. Auction sales above high estimates are fewer and the rate of unsold works progressively increases : 8% in 2010, 10% in 2011, 18% in 2012 and 20% in 2013. During this period the artist “only” records 4 bids in the millions. The highly publicized mega-exhibition “The Complete Spot Paintings, 1986-2011” organized by Gagosian did not produce a positive impact on sales.

Qatar exhibition and beyond

The period covering his blockbuster exhibition “Relics” in Qatar up to the present day illustrates the Hirst machine slowdown. Of the 57 works put on auction between 10 October 2013 and 31 December 2015, 17 lots went unsold (30%) while only 15 were sold above their high estimate (26%). Out of 422 Sotheby’s lots on auction between 2005 and 2016, a value loss of 42% is noted. In detail : the work Beautiful, shattered, mellow, exploding, paint-filled balloons painting sold in 2008 for $931,041 to be resold in 2013 for $647,708 (-30.5%). Bill with shark sold for $562,185 in 2008 and was resold in 2010 for $278.500$ (-51.5%). Beautiful Kali psychopathy intense painting (with extra inner beauty) sold for $217,605 in 2008 and was resold in 2014 for $127,721 (-41%). The works Dog days, Hydroquinone and Beautiful magnificent everyone loves a good romance painting sold respectively for $562,185 in 2008, $506,500 in 2010 and $445,381$ in 2011 : all went unsold in their second Sotheby’s auction.

ArtReview crowned Hirst the most influential person in the art world in 2005 and 2008, but the artist has not even appeared on the celebrated monthly listing since 2013. This situation is echoed by Artnet’s statistics : of the top 100 living artists listing, established based on total sales realized on the secondary market, there is no mention of the British artist between 2011 and 2016.

Vincent Kozsilovics
Publié le 03/06/2016
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Damien Hirst devant l’une de ses Spot Paintings © Andrew Testa pour The New York Times Auctioneers at work in London on Monday at the Sotheby’s auction of Damien Hirst works © Credit Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images Installation view ’DAMIEN HIRST: The Complete Spot Paintings  1986–2011’ © Photo by Matteo Piazza Damien Hirst - Relics - Alriwaq Doha © qatar museums authority L’oeuvre ’Beautiful, shattered, mellow, exploding, paint-filled balloons painting’ (1996) vendue en 2008 pour 931.041$ et revendue en 2013 pour 647.708$ (-30.5%) © Damien Hirst L’oeuvre ’Bill with shark’ (2008) vendue pour 562.185$ en 2008 et revendue en 2010 pour 278.500$ (-51.5%) © Damien Hirst L’oeuvre ’Beautiful kali psychopathy intense painting (With extra inner beauty)’ (2008) vendue pour 217.605$ en 2008 et revendue en 2014 pour 127.721$ (-41%) © Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst devant l’une de ses Spot Paintings
© Andrew Testa pour The New York Times

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