Hirst joining the NFT mania was certainly a smart move. He produced the project “The Currency” with HENI, an artistic services company founded by Hage. They made around $18 million from the initial sale and, according to Hage, take an additional 5% of the proceeds from NFT resales.
“I have about 2,000 people online who are constantly talking about ‘money’. Hirst says. “It trades all the time: it goes up and down, it has value one minute, and not the next.
“It’s like being in a cult, and I’m the cult leader,” he added.
But Hirst’s lucrative fascination with flower paintings and financial value systems made him a very different artist from the provocateur who, in 1990, mesmerized the art world with “A thousand years», a window filled with breeding flies zapped above a severed calf’s head.
Ivor Braka, a London-based private collector and dealer, acquired Hirst’s biting motorized formaldehyde piece, “This little pig went to the market, this little pig stayed at home“, at Hirst’s first Gagosian show, in 1996, for around $150,000. Shortly thereafter, he sold the sculpture to Charles Saatchi, who included it and “A Thousand Years” in the landmark exhibition “Sensation from 1997 in London which introduced Hirst to a wider audience.
“Damien was one of the most radical artists of post-war Britain, both as a sculptor and as a thinker,” Braka said. But Hirst’s later strategy of “making the most money in the shortest possible time was not the best move”, he added.
Under the direction of a former manager, the accountant Frank Dunphy, Hirst has become a global brand. He negotiated huge cuts in his galleries, collaborated with his dealer White Cube in 2007 to put a diamond-encrusted skull on the market for nearly $100 million, then bypassed the gallery system altogether the following year. by selling 223 works in a $200 million Sotheby’s. auction, just as the global financial system was on the verge of collapse.