Damien Hirst’s Dead-Animal Auction Breaks Records Despite Economic Apocalypse

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Edwin Cohen's The rain reveals the hidden names of flowers (2008). Photo: Getty Images

The long-anticipated financial apocalypse may finally be upon us, but, hilariously, there's still a bull market for dead animals soaked in formaldehyde! With still a day left to go, Damien Hirst's dealer-bypassing "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever" auction at Sotheby's has already sold $127 million worth of art, breaking the record for the biggest sale by a single artist. The 223 pieces being offered at the two-day sale were expected to bring in only around $115 million total, but the lure of expired bulls with gold-painted hoofs (Hirst's The Golden Calf went for $18.6 million) proved simply too much for rich people who'd just come from dumping all their stocks.

Only two works didn't sell — Devil Worshipper, consisting of dead flies adhered to a canvas, and Theology, Philosophy, Medicine, Justice, which features four bulls sharing two tanks. Everything else moved fast, though, aided, no doubt, by Hirst's promise to produce fewer animal-corpse-centric pieces and no more spin or spot paintings, which are famously done by his many assistants, who will now be tasked exclusively with counting all his money.

Hirst’s Art Auction Attracts Plenty of Bidders, Despite Financial Turmoil [NYT]

Related: The Gist: Damien Hirst’s ‘Beautiful Inside My Head Forever’ Sale [NYM]