From an article By Sarah Thornton for The Art Newspaper
"Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” sounds like the name of a new work by Damien Hirst, but it’s actually the title of his solo sale at Sotheby’s. The “Beautiful” auction raises many questions, including: Is Hirst sabotaging his own market? On several stands at Art Basel last month, new and vintage Hirst works remained unsold. Hirst’s studios are not only extremely efficient in keeping his official dealers well stocked with a good range of spot, spin, and butterfly paintings, but in making direct sales themselves.
At a time when some gallerists are experiencing a minor slowdown, one dealer suspected the artist of orchestrating an “end-of-boom fire sale” to accommodate his alleged over-production. True believers, however, see Hirst’s abundant serial output as essential to his oeuvre. One collector close to both Jopling and Gagosian told me, “I love Damien’s work, but his treatment of his business partners is abusive and selfish.” Certainly many gallerists believe the auction is “a horrible precedent”.
However, some view the sale as an almost philosophical event. As dealer-collector David Mugrabi explains, “It seems to be a game for Damien. He’s seeing if he can get away with murder, just as Duchamp did with his urinal.” Damien is one of the few who could pull this off.” We have been the crossover pioneers of morphing business models. Art is all about transforming and border testing, but the dealer logic has been very conservative.”
However, when artists become their own dealers, Dr Neumeister says, “I worry for their freedom and their peace of mind. It’s time consuming and distracting. That’s why it’s great Damien has his alter ego. In the end, it is important to note that the sale is not guaranteed and to remember that Hirst’s personal collection is called “Murder Me”. So, one must agree with Sotheby’s Oliver Barker when he declares, “Damien is totally fearless. He’s not just an outstanding artist, he’s a cultural phenomenon.”