Here’s a bombshell for you: Damien Hirst is parting ways with his longtime gallery, Gagosian, reports Georgina Adam of the Financial Times. He will continue his relationship with White Cube in London. In a statement, Hirst’s company, Science Ltd., described the split as “amicable.” The YBA is widely considered the world’s richest artist (his net worth is an estimated £215 million, according to the Sunday Times). With an estimated turnover of $925 million, Gagosian is the world’s richest gallery, according to Forbes Magazine.
In a statement, Gagosian Gallery said, “It has been a great honour to work with Damien over the last 17 years culminating with the worldwide showing of the Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011 at all 11 Gagosian galleries this year… We wish him continued success for the future.”
As Adam points out, Hirst’s departure follows news that another Gagosian blue-chip superstar, Jeff Koons, would hold an exhibition at rival David Zwirner Gallery in May. The announcement prompted speculation that Koons may be looking to leave Gagosian for good, although he has made no such announcement.
Hirst’s market has been having a rough go of it lately. His global spot painting spectacular earlier this year was reportedly a dud, and his works continued to flounder at auction this fall. In fact, works by Hirst acquired during art market boom times — between 2005 and 2008 — have since resold at an average loss of 30 percent, according to a November story in Bloomberg Businessweek. “He has way underperformed,” Michael Moses, a retired New York University business professor who maintains a financial index for art, said at the time.
Where Hirst will show in New York next is anyone’s guess. Or perhaps he’ll just go it alone. The bad boy artist is no stranger to making his own waves in the market: In 2008, he teamed up with Sotheby’s to auction off 218 of his works.
— Julia Halperin
(Photo by Kyle Chayka.)