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Art, Antiques and Collectibles News Still Headlines Hirst

by Sandra Lee Stuart (09/16/08).

Again topping the art, antiques and collectibles news is the Damien Hirst auction, which seems to be proving that weirdness sells. But let’s not overlook the rare Constable sketch coming out of the closet and finding collectibles in online thrift stores.

Hirst gambles, wins big payoff so far

The results of the first day of Sotheby London’s two-day auction of 223 Damien Hirst works is in. Despite the world’s markets reeling as America’s fourth-largest investment bank, Lehman Brothers, filed for bankruptcy, Monday’s take exceeded expectations.

Hirst, in a move as audacious as his art, said adios to his dealers—London’s White Cube and the Gagosian Gallery of New York and Beverly Hills—and went straight to auction. According to the Independent of London, “it is the first time an artist of Hirst’s stature has bypassed his usual dealer and gallery and sold his works directly to the public.”

So how did it go? Fifty-four works went for $127 million, topping the estimate of $112 million.

And what was sold? Some animals preserved in formaldehyde, such as the bull embellished with gold-cast hooves and horns that gaveled in at $18.6 million, The New York Times reports, and a tiger shark that brought in $17.2 million.

With the world economy looking more than a little shaky, why are buyers coughing up this amount of money for Damien Hirst? Sotheby’s head of contemporary art worldwide feels it’s because he is “a global artist that can defy local economies.”

For those who wonder why anyone would want to own a strange, to say the least, Hirst creation, take heart. His “Devil Worshiper,” a canvas covered with dead flies, found no buyer.

So, what’s in your storage room?

In the case of the Solihull Council—Solihull being a little bit south of Birmingham, England— we’re talking about a John Constable sketch, reports the Daily Telegraph of London.

Picture this. We have the council drowning in millions of dollars (okay, pounds) of debt finding a very pricey, maybe even priceless, Constable sketch of Malvern Hall, a grand English estate. The Tate museum has the oil based on the drawing.

Under the dire-economic circumstances, the council officials decided to auction it. And the auction house, Bonhams London, was more than happy to oblige. “It’s very exciting this has come up,” Bonhams’ Alexandra Ault told the Daily Telegraph. “There are a number of very serious Constable collectors both here and abroad, and we are expecting the piece to attract a lot of attention.”

Takin’ it to the Net

Local thrift stores get all manner of collectibles among their donations. PhillyBurbs.com checked out Care & Share Shoppes in Souderton, Pa. It was given a nice little toy car. The asking price, if sold in the store, would have been maybe three or four dollars.

But instead of putting the car up on one of its shelves, Care & Share, went online where the toy sold for $2,025. The money goes to help the Mennonite Central Committee, which provides disaster relief to communities hit hard by wars and Mother Nature.

Adele Meyer of the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops says that a store will “get something they don’t have the right customer for, but they’ll sell” online.

Goodwill Industries has sold more than $50-million worth of items since starting up its shopgoodwill.com in 1999. An American Impressionist Frank Weston Benson watercolor brought in $165,000.

If you’re looking for collectibles, antiques and art, you might want to stroll the aisles of online thrift stores.

One Response to “Art, Antiques and Collectibles News Still Headlines Hirst”

  1. Nino Baldino says:

    ..just curious,,many moons ago I gave to my local high school a painting I did of Abe Lincoln..the social studies dept..for many years it was hung in a classroom,,then disappeared…a few weeks ago I was given a tip and lo and behold my painting was sole on ebay two years ago….do I contact the school to see if they just gave it away and does the school have that right or not..just wondering out loud…..

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