Flash News: Damien Hirst’s manager to sell collection – The Pinault Collection – Stand up!

[24 Aug 2018]

Damien Hirst’s manager to sell collection via Sotheby’s

It’s the sale of the new season: on 21 September Sotheby’s will host a sale entitled Yellow Ball: The Franck and Lorna Dunphy Collection that will offer more than 200 works by Damien HIRST and other YBAs (Young British Artists) emblematic of the iconoclastic arts scene of the 1990’s. The collection traces the history of a collaboration lasting more than 15 years between Damien Hirst and his agent-patron Frank Dunphy, to whom the artist owes his profitable career and many of his best financial moves. In the 2000s, the duo cleverly orchestrated two sales with Sotheby’s that would revolutionize the art market. In 2004, the sale of Hirst’s Notting Hill Pharmacy restaurant (at that time, the largest concentration of Hirst’s works) which generated a total of $14 million with 100% of the lots finding buyers. Four years later, the duo organised Beautiful inside my head forever, a sale that not only bypassed galleries by offering new works directly to the market, but which also garnered $142 million: the still-standing world record for a monographic sale.

The Dunphy collection therefore tells a very ‘intimate’ story… that of Frank and Lorna Dunphy and their lives at the heart of the Anglo-Saxon art scene at the end of the 20th century. Most of the works in the sale have never been seen before: many of the works given to the couple by the artists make reference to their shared history with the couple. When Franck was sick, Hirst gave him a medicine cabinet Psst (1997); for his 70th birthday he received his portrait Bust of Frank (2008) and to celebrate his retirement Hirst gave him the yellow tondo Smashing Yellow Ball at Peace Painting (2008) whose title references Frank’s first encounter with his wife Lorna. The collection also features works by Richard PRINCETracey EMIN and Angus FAIRHURST whose carved gorilla was always placed at the Dunphy’s dinner table whenever there were 13 guests.

A decade after the financial and artistic stunts pulled off by the Dunphy / Hirst duo and the euphoria of an unbridled market, the upcoming Sotheby’s sale could be seen as marking the end of the success story. Dunphy has retired and Hirst’s price index is declining (-84% since 2008). Moreover, Sotheby’s is offering the works at decidedly modest prices with an expected total of no more than $11 million. Judging from previews of the catalogue in preparation, there are no estimates above the $300,000 threshold for Damien Hirst and the most expensive work (high estimate of $1 million) is a Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1961) by Lucio FONTANA. Nevertheless, Sotheby’s is putting much emphasis on the intimate character of the works for sale and their uniqueness. It will be interesting to see if this ‘sentimental’ marketing touches the hearts (and pockets) of collectors.

The Pinault Collection – Stand up!

Rennes – the fast evolving capital of Brittany – is currently hosting an exhibition (23 June – 9 September) that is enough to make the French capital turn pale. Sixty works from François Pinault’s prestigious collection are being shown at the recently restored 14th century Convent of the Jacobins.

Boldly titled Debout! (Stand up!), the show can leave no-one indifferent to the harshness of the themes represented. They include contempt, torture, crucifixion, racism, the Vietnam War, Fukushima… with each cleverly staged work delivering a fiery message of truth about human cruelty, barbarism and the trials and tribulations endured by mankind in the 20th and 21st centuries. A good number of the sixty works have colossal dimensions: in the entrance to the building we see three gigantic beings including the sculpture Baby by Thomas Houseago. The show contains works by a number of big-name artists including the sulphurous Maurizio CATTELAN with his sculpture of a young Adolf Hitler praying to God (Him); Adel ABDESSEMED with his 3-D interpretation (Cree) of the famous photo of a screaming girl taken by Nick Ut during the Vietnam war; the infernal duo Jake & Dinos CHAPMAN whose Fucking Hell reproduces Nazi atrocities in the form of painstaking miniature models. It is also an opportunity to see works by ‘emerging’ talents (a particular focus of the Pinault Collection) including the French artist Vincent GICQUEL and the Brazilian artist Lucas ARRUDA. The hosting of an exhibition of this size – which is attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the city of Rennes – proves that France’s n°3 fortune (according to the latest Forbes ranking) is willing to promote Contemporary art outside of the art market hubs where his fame is already established…

After Venice with his Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana – the two spaces restored by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando that host major exhibitions from the François Pinault Collection – the famous French tycoon has just unveiled outlines for the architectural restoration of his future private museum in the old Bourse du Commerce of Paris (for a 50-year emphyteutic lease). Work is expected to start soon for an extremely rapid opening planned in 2019. The François Pinault Collection contains roughly 3,000 works by more than 500 of the most sought-after and internationally recognised artists in the world. The Collection has sold only 130 works since the early 2000s.