The final results are in: the Damien Hirst auction at Sotheby’s raised £111.5 million, which is thisclose to $200 million. (It would have been comfortably over the $200 million level at any point until the pound collapsed at the beginning of the month.)
The weak pound certainly helped, but mainly the art market seems to be incredibly good at ignoring the craziness on Wall Street. The Golden Calf sold for $18.7 million, while Shark II (er, sorry, The Kingdom) blew through its high estimate and ended up selling for only slightly less: $17.2 million. The third-highest price — $9.4 million — went for Fragments of Paradise, not an animal in formaldehyde but rather diamonds in a vitrine; it had been estimated at just £1 million to £1.5 million.
Richard Lacayo has the one-line summary:
Markets may plummet but butterflies just keep floating upward.
Still, I stand by my prediction: this is the highest that Hirst will ever float. He’s like Stephen Schwarzman: he managed to time his biggest sale for right at the top of the market. Good for him.
(And yes, I know that the $200 million includes the buyer’s premium which goes to Sotheby’s and not to Hirst. But at the same time it doesn’t include the five lots which weren’t sold during the auction but which were sold immediately afterwards. So let’s just call it $200 million and be done, eh?)