Art market

Diamond skull will go to auction if it fails to sell, says Damien Hirst

"A number of interested individuals are looking to purchase the skull at its full price of $100m"

Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God, will be sold at auction if it does not find a buyer, according to the artist.

In a long interview last month with the French newspaper, Le Figaro, Hirst said: “I sold 2/3 [of the diamond skull] to an investment company, I kept 1/3...We have an agreement. If they can’t sell it privately, within eight years, it will go to auction.”

In a separate interview also published last month, Hirst’s business manager Frank Dunphy told Time magazine that he and Hirst’s London dealer, Jay Jopling, are also investors in the work.

For the Love of God was first displayed in the exhibition “Beyond Belief” at White Cube in June 2007. Its asking price was £50m. In August 2007 Mr Dunphy told us that he was talking to “a group composed of a number of interested individuals who are looking to purchase the skull at its full price of $100m.” He has now told Time that he, Jopling and Hirst own the “controlling interest in the work”. He also says the price of the skull now “would be double” or £100m.

The revelation that the skull will be sold at auction if a private buyer cannot be found, follows Hirst’s decision to offer 223 new works at Sotheby’s in London on 15 and 16 September, a strategy which proved highly profitable.

When asked if Sotheby’s would be prepared to sell For the Love of God, the auction house said it was unable to answer “hypothetical” questions. The skull goes on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on 1 November, the first stop in a proposed global tour.

o For a report on Damien Hirst’s Sotheby’s sale, p63; For a feature article on the artist, pp39-41