Damien Hirst claimed £1.3m in furlough payments from the government in 2020, the same year he made 63 people redundant in his studios.
New accounts filed with Companies House also show that Hirst's company, Science (UK), turned over £18.2m in 2020—compared with £11.2m in 2019—though profits after tax stood at £1.2m. Unspecified administrative expenses more than doubled to £40.4m in 2020.
Science (UK) makes Hirst’s art and then sells it on to his offshore parent company, Science (registered in Jersey). The artist’s debt to his parent company has been reduced from more than £100m to £59m, according to the latest accounts, which include a number of adjustments to the filing made in 2019.
Connor Hirst, the artist’s eldest son, was appointed a director of Science (UK) in May 2021.
Meanwhile, Science (UK) owns £40.9m-worth of art that is yet to be sold, while there is an impairment or permanent reduction of £2.9m against “slow moving and obsolete stocks”. The value of properties and land owned by Hirst in the UK amounted to more than £60m in 2020. His art collection, formerly known as Murderme but renamed Prints and Editions in January 2020, is currently worth £183m.
In 2020, after the pandemic hit, Hirst used the UK government's job retention scheme “to preserve cash and manage costs”. Over the course of that year, Hirst sought to remodel his business, pausing the production of new works and concentrating on the sale of existing pieces. In October 2020, he made more than a third of his overall workforce—63 people—redundant. However, the accounts state that the average monthly number of employees fell by just 19, from 175 in 2019 to 156 in 2020.
As well as using the furlough scheme, Hirst claimed £15m in emergency Covid-19 loans from the UK government. His latest accounts do not refer directly to this loan, though £80.4m is owed to unspecified “group undertakings”.