Last week, we told you about Esquire‘s new column by author and academic Stephen Marche, the first installment of which focusses on the return of the skull as a fashionable, and sometimes pricey, cultural commodity. The article cites a diamond-encrusted platinum skull that original Young Bullshit Artist—er, we mean, Young British Artist, Damien Hirst sold for $100 million in 2007. Now, the 43-year-old international art sensation has some new pieces up for sale at astronomical prices. Reuters, which describes Mr. Hirst as “one of contemporary art’s most bankable stars,” reports that Sotheby’s is set to auction off a series of his extravagant works in London this September. The expected hot ticket item? “A bull in a glass tank of formaldehyde with its head crowned by a solid gold disc and its hooves and horns cast in 18-carat gold” that’s expected to sell for as much as £12 million. Paintings, cabinets and drawings will also be up for sale.
The auction will coincide with the 20th anniversary of an exhibition in London that launched the careers of Mr. Hirst and other Young British Artists, or YBA’s (they’re not so young anymore), who are famous for their sensational concept pieces and use of throwaway materials or, in Mr. Hirst’s case, dead animals, like his formaldehyde shark that came to the Met last summer. So why sell at auction rather than privately, as was the case with last year’s skull purchase? “It’s a very democratic way to sell art and it feels like a natural evolution for contemporary art,” Mr. Hirst said in a statement cited by Reuters. “Although there is risk involved, I embrace the challenge of selling my work in this way … I never want to stop working with my galleries. This is different. The world’s changing, ultimately I need to see where this road leads.”