Hirst in the Current Market (10/19/11)

Last week’s Contemporary Art auctions in London (Christie’s, Sotheby’s & Phillips) included 25 works by Damien Hirst, the largest number to come to market since his single artist sale at Sotheby’s London on September 15, 2008. We analyzed the results and of the 25 lots offered only 10 had low estimates in excess of £100,000. The most expensive lot on offer, Observation – The Crown of Justice (Phillips Evening Sale), was estimated at £700,000 to £1,000,000 but achieved a Hammer price of only £660,000. When looking at the remaining 9 lots (7 of which were in the Evening Sales and 2 in the Day Sales), 4 lots sold under their low estimates, 3 within their estimates and 2 above their high estimates. In currency terms, the overall Hammer price of £3,875,000 for the 10 lots was just 10.7% above the total pre-sale low estimate of £3,500,000.

Although Hirst works are returning to the auction market in significantly greater numbers, they are not achieving the stellar results they once did and the frenzied competition is gone. Buyers have become extremely selective, price conscious and aware of works available in the secondary market. Given that, we do not expect demand and pricing to change dramatically in the near future.

Hirst 101911

Hirst 102011

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