Any concern that Damien Hirst's audacious auction would be crimped by the financial market's manic Monday meltdown quickly abated yesterday. With more than 160 lots yet to be sold, the artist has already racked up over £70m at Sotheby's, which is auctioning original pieces direct from his show Beautiful Inside My Head with no hint of a gallery fee in sight. While Hirst's acumen is unquestioned, his auction has provoked diverse opinion: Robert Hughes lambasted his gaudy avarice, while critic Peter Conrad has become a convert to Hirst's ingenuity in "wrestling with notions of mortality" - embodied perhaps by yesterday's top seller, "The Golden Calf", a real calf in formaldehyde furnished with 18-carat gold hoofs and horns, that collected £10.3m. The auction runs until Wednesday.
16 September 2008