untangling the awkward relationship between art and money

Diamonds are forever, or, in Damien Hirst’s case, until he can find another ‘stakeholder’ to relieve him of his share of ‘For the Love of God’.

‘For the Love of God’, indeed.

What to do if one’s much-vaunted, publicity-heat-seeking work of art fails to attract the £50m asking price? Easy. Get together with one’s business manager and art dealer, and buy it yourself. Which poses a rather existential conundrum – if an artwork falls in a distant gallery, and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Or – if you purchase a work of art from yourself, does the price you paid for it represent a ‘real’ price?

After artpreneur (ooo – think I just coined a new word) Damien Hirst’s diamond-studded, platinum coated skull was unveiled with much fanfare in 2007, rather embarrassingly no buyer was prepared to pony up the cash. Rather than sell it at a discount (according to The Art Newspaper, dealer Alberto Mugrabi offered to buy it for £35m), Hirst, along with his dealer, Jay Jopling, and business manager, Frank Dunphy , and Russian neo-oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, all ‘chipped in’ and ‘bought’ the skull together.

Ah, the ins and outs of the art market. Such fun.

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