Hirst’s Spectacular Skull

What to make of Damien Hirst’s $100

million skull? It will sell, that much is clear: the buyer will

not be the person with the most money, but rather the person with the most art-world

clout. So more likely a reasonably established collector than some nouveau Chinese

or Russian billionaire in it for the insta-cachet and the bling.

Bloomberg’s Linda

Sandler is comparing the skull to the price of a Hamptons estate, of all

things, which seems a little peculiar until you recall that Tobias Meyer of

Sotheby’s once said that the price of a decent Rothko tracks quite closely the

price of a big Park Avenue apartment. Prestige art, like prestige property,

is unique, and the price dynamics can be quite similar.

Hirst’s achievement here, should not be understated. The acres of press that

this skull is receiving is testament to the fact that he has – again –

created an icon which transcends the art world and resonates in the public’s

mind like the art of no other contemporary artist. (Jeff Koons, I’d say, would

come a distant second in that competition: Hirst’s real competitors in this

space are all deceased, from Warhol and Dali all the way back through Pollock

and Picasso to Leonardo.)

My guess is that the next time the skull is on public view, it will be as part

of a major Hirst retrospective at the Tate. At that point, we’ll be better placed

to be able to judge just how well it stands up to — or surpasses — the rest

of Hirst’s art. But for the time being, it’s fun just to sit back and enjoy

the spectacle.

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