LONDON.- Damien Hirst's bold bet to bypass his galleries paid off for him when Sotheby's sold his works of art for $127 million on Monday night. The top lot was "The Golden Calf", a 600kg bull whose hooves and horns are cast in solid 18-carat gold, which sold for S18.6m, a record for the artist at auction.
The sale of 54 lots smashed the previous record set in 1993 for 88 works by Picasso. Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the celebrated Freeze exhibition curated by Hirst in London, which launched the careers of Hirst and his contemporaries, Beautiful Inside My Head Forever affirms Hirsts position as a boundary breaker and as an artist who has never worked in the traditional vein.
Damien Hirst said: After the success of the Pharmacy auction, I always felt I would like to do another auction. Its a very democratic way to sell art and it feels like a natural evolution for contemporary art. Although there is risk involved, I embrace the challenge of selling my work in this way. I never want to stop working with my galleries. This is different. The worlds changing, ultimately I need to see where this road leads.
The two-day, 223-lot sale -- the first in which a major contemporary artist has offered a large body of work direct to the public at auction -- is expected to fetch in excess of 65 million pounds, said Sotheby's.
Damien Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol, UK. He grew up in Leeds before graduating with a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London where he was the dominant figure of a generation of British artists. In 1988, he curated the Goldsmiths exhibition, Freeze, in a warehouse in Surrey Docks, East London. He lives and works in London, Devon and Mexico. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including Into Me/Out of Me, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2006), In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Tate Britain, the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and Century City, Tate Modern (2001). Solo exhibitions include Astrup Fearnley Museet fur Moderne Kunst, Oslo (2005), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2005), Archaeological Museum, Naples (2004) and In the darkest hour there may be light (2006) works from Damien Hirst’s Murderme collection, curated by the artist, Serpentine Gallery, London. He received the DAAD fellowship in Berlin in 1994 and the Turner Prize in 1995. In August 2007, his diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God, sold for £50 million.