Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 17:30 UK

Hirst works fetch record prices


Hirst's The Kingdom goes under the hammer

An auction of art works by Damien Hirst has smashed top estimates to bring in a record total of 70.5m ($125m), with still more works for sale.

The British artist has abandoned the traditional method of selling through dealers and galleries, going straight to the auction house Sotheby's instead.

It is the first time an artist has sold a substantial body of work this way.

Sotheby's say the sale - which runs over two days - has set a new record for a sale dedicated to one artist.

Hirst has specialised in displaying animals preserved in tanks of chemicals.

Among the lots were The Golden Calf - a bull in a tank of formaldehyde, with its head crowned by a gold disc - which sold for 9.2m ($16.5m).

The Kingdom - a tiger shark also in formaldehyde - sold for 9.6m ($17.2m). It had been estimated at about half that price.

The Black Sheep with the Golden Horn, another animal in formaldehyde, sold for 2.6m, within its 2-3m estimate.

The auction, entitled Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, was the first of three that will sell a total of 223 art works by Mr Hirst.

The second and third sessions are due to take place on Tuesday.

Mr Hirst has called the auction a "mini retrospective" and "probably the most amazing show I've put on".

BBC Entertainment reporter David Sillito said that opting to sell all this art in the hurley-burley of the sale room is an unusual move, but that the artist says galleries can be snobby and elitist.

A spokesman for the auction house Sotheby's said: "The extraordinary body of new work to be showcased at Sotheby's is among his best yet - ambitious, exquisite and incredibly powerful."

The previous record for a sale dedicated to a single artist was set in 1993 for works by Picasso, which went for a total of $20m (11m)

New Hirst works to be auctioned
19 Jun 08 |  Entertainment/Arts
Hirst auction 'due to fetch 65m'
29 Jul 08 |  Entertainment/Arts
Hirst's diamond skull raises 50m
30 Aug 07 |  Entertainment/Arts

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