an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Is Hirst’s Skull a $100-Million Hoax?

Does anyone still believe that Damien Hirst‘s diamond skull really sold for $100 million? I don’t. Not after my e-mail exchange with Sara Macdonald, press officer of White Cube, Hirst’s London gallery:
CultureGrrl: What does it mean that Damien Hirst “is keeping a stake” in the skull? Has he literally kicked in some of the $100 million from his own funds? If so, can you give some idea of whether his stake is a sizable percentage of the $100 million?
Macdonald: I’m afraid this information is not available. The artist has retained a participation in the work in order to oversee a global exhibition of the work. Details of which will be announced at a later date.

What does that tell us? If there truly were a legitimate $100-million sale to an outside group of investors, wouldn’t the artist and his dealer, who have been consistently cryptic, do everything in their power to explicitly squelch rumors that the sale was a sham? In today’s NY Times, Carol Vogel (welcome back, “Inside Art”) helpfully lists three of the scenarios making the rounds, including:
The skull has been sold, but the investment group consists of the artist, his dealer and his business manager.
I don’t mind a gallery’s declining to give details of a transaction. I do mind its disseminating disinformation. It would appear that perhaps the purported “record price” for a living artist should be assigned a big asterisk or even expunged from the record books—like a homerun record on steroids.
In other skull-duggery, I liked Blake Gopnik‘s interpretation in today’s Washington Post of the meaning of this controversial object:
It is a work of art that is all about outrageous and pointless overspending. And the best way for it to be about that is for it to insist that it is also the ultimate example of it.

an ArtsJournal blog