Stating “I think the art world is definitely already going in this direction, and my auction is just a fast-forward,” Hirst intended to enact a democratisation of the art market. He explains: “It’s very difficult to buy a work in a gallery, you walk into the gallery, you get put on a waiting list by an intimidating woman or something and they want to know who you are.”
The auction lots were displayed in Sotheby’s galleries and included new works taken from a variety of Hirst’s series. The focal lots were two formaldehyde pieces from the ‘Natural History’ series: ‘The Golden Calf’ (2008) – a bull with hooves and horns of 18-carat gold; and ‘The Kingdom’ (2008) – a shark contained within a black stainless-steel and glass tank.
Hirst acknowledged that the auction was “definitely about feeling a bit like King Midas” and many of the new works incorporated high-value materials. Among them were a series of gold and cubic zirconia monochrome butterfly paintings (‘Midas and the Infinite’ (2008)) and a new collection of gold-plated diamond cabinets (‘Memories of/ Moments with You’ (2008)).
Four heart-shaped spin paintings with butterflies were auctioned in aid of Hirst’s dedicated charities: Strummerville; Survival International; Kids Co; and Demelza.
The three-volume Sotheby’s catalogue accompanying the auction included a conversation between Hirst and Gordon Burn, plus essays by Burn, Michael Bracewell and Michael Macaulay (Sotheby’s, 2008).