Top Five most valuable Damien Hirst artworks - works which have bite

Damien Hirst is one of the richest artists around - certainly the richest British artist in the world, and the leading figure for the movement known as the Young British Artists. Although he's currently turning his hand to property development, unveiling a plan for 500 eco homes, his wealth comes from his original career as an artist. 

In 2008, Hirst's manager Frank Dunphy claimed that Hirst was now worth over $1bn.

So where has Hirst's wealth come from? His works have challenged, startled and sometimes infuriated critics and the public alike with certain consistent themes, especially death.

So here are Hirst's top five most valuable art sales:

5. Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain'

There have been many depictions of the martyr Saint Sebastian over the centuries, generally with a well-toned body and an unlikely expression of peacefulness (or, for weaker artists, boredom) on his face despite the arrows digging into his flesh.

Hirst's version was a little different, however, and in 2007 his Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain impressed the singer and art collector George Michael enough for him to part with £3.5m for it. It featured a black calf in formaldehyde which has been pierced by dozens of arrows.

4. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

Surely Hirst's most famous work, which launched his reputation, must be The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.

The name is not particularly famous though. It's better known by description as the (tiger) shark in formaldehyde, though Hirst later placed another shark in formaldehyde and titled it The Kingdom.


Charles Saatchi, who commissioned the first artwork from Hirst, later sold it for £6.5m to collector Steve Cohen in 2004. The Kingdom sold in 2008 for £9.6m

3. The Golden Calf

The 2008 sale in which The Kingdom sold was entitled Beautiful Inside my Head Forever was conducted directly by Damien Hirst through Sotheby's and broke the record for an auction devoted to a single artist, achieving £111m.

The Kingdom narrowly missed out on being the top lot, however. That honour went to another work in formaldehyde: a bull suspended in the substance with 18 karat gold horns and hooves known as The Golden Calf.

2. Lullaby Spring

Fortunately, not all of Hirst's celebrated works are animals committed to formaldehyde, and in fact the work which saw Hirst break the record for the artwork of a living artist in 2007 was a steel cabinet measuring three-metres long, containing more than 6,000 pills.

The buyer was the Emir of Qatar, who paid $19.2m for work. He continues to buy in artworks at extraordinary prices including Cezanne's Card Players at the greatest price ever for an artwork ($250m).

1. For the Love of God

Creating artworks can be expensive, and this has rarely been more clearly demonstrated than in the case of For the Love of God.

This is the re-creation of a human skull in platinum, encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamondswhich went on show at the White Cube Gallery in London and elsewhere.

In 2007 it reportedly sold for the price of £50m. However, some have questioned the validity of the sale (which would make the work the second most valuable sculpture sold, after Giacometti's L'Homme quie Marche) as it was bought by a consortium which reportedly included Hirst himself.


Nevertheless, there are continuing efforts to drum up enough support for the skull to be bought by one museum/gallery or another, and its seems likely that if this is not already the most valuable of Hirst's artworks it is only a matter of time before it is.


Collectors eager to buy avante garde artworks should take a look at this painting, created using the blood of a famous singer and available from our stock.


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