Enfant terrible of the Young British Artists, Damien Hirst continues to blur the boundaries between artist and business mogul. With his so-called ”art factory” driving the size of his output, Hirst has established himself as one of the most prominent figures in the Contemporary Art world. Hirst remains a prolific force today, which is reflected in the significant value growth of his secondary print market over the last 24 months.
Download our complete 2023 Print Market Report here, to explore expert opinions on the prints and multiples market over the last five years.
Thanks to Hirst's ever-expanding body of work, the YBA's secondary print market has increased in size by 143% since 2017. The average selling price of Hirst's prints has steadily increased by 25% in the last five years. Hirst is the aficionado of controversy in the Post-War & Contemporary Art market, and continues to be a desirable investment as we enter 2023.
Here are Hirst's top 10 most investable prints according to our 2023 Market Report:
Produced as part of his series The Last Supper, which appropriates pharmaceutical iconography, Sandwich is Hirst's most investable print of the past five years. The work toys with our collective visual memory, using the distinctive type face and format of drug packaging. In the place of the medicine name is the word ’Sandwich’, and in the place of the manufacturer's logo is the artist's name ’Hirst’.
Throughout his dynamic artistic career, Hirst has broached major themes like mortality and religion. The Last Supper series attests that pharmaceutical companies have become the gods of the modern age, their medicines venerated and believed in by consumers. The series might be read as an extension of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans, mocking our idolisation of consumerism. This particular print from the series has experienced considerable value growth, increasing by over 375% since 2017.
From his infamous Spots series, Vipera Lebetina presents a grid of muted-coloured spots. Like all the works in this series, this print is named after a medicine Hirst in the Physicians’ Desk Reference, a commercially published book to give information on prescription drugs. Though Hirst and his Warholian workshop have created an endless supply of Spots prints, Vipera Lebetina has been particularly popular in the past five years, experiencing approx. 355% value growth.
Also from the Spots series, Diacetoxyscirpenol is another work that takes its name from the Physicians’ Desk Reference. Like Vipera Lebetina, the work is unique for its subdued greyscale colour palette. The work exemplifies Hirst's interest in straddling science and art, appearing at once like an abstract artwork and a packet of pills. This novel Spots print has proven particularly popular since 2017, growing in value by over 325%.
Another work from Hirst's The Last Supper series, Liver, Bacon, Onions is a satirical reimagining of pharmaceutical packaging. In the place of the medicine name are the ingredients ’Liver, Bacon, Onions, S.P.’, and in the place of the manufacturer's logo are the artist's initials: ’DSH’. Like other works in the series, Liver, Bacon, Onions mocks our veneration of modern medicine. Hirst shrewdly names his own medicine after an unhealthy food type, hence the clear instruction on the packaging: ‘CAUTION S2, USE STRICTLY AS DIRECTED, KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN’. Since 2017 this wry work has experienced over 305% value growth, making it one of Hirst's most investable works from The Last Supper series.
Methyl Aspartic Acid is another unique work from the Spots series. In this 2011 print, Hirst created a grid of six perfect circles and three half circles in vibrant colours. Like all works in the series, the print unites science and art, its name derived from a prescribed drug. Like other distinctive works in the series, this print has been particularly popular in the secondary market in the past five years. Since 2017, Methyl Aspartic Acid has grown in value by over 250%.
Another work from The Last Supper series, Mushroom subverts traditional pharmaceutical packaging. In the place of the medicine name is the food ’mushroom’, and the name ’HirstDamien’ replaces the manufacturer's logo. Underneath the dosage information, the word ’PIE’ is printed in a box, disturbing the viewer's interpretation of the work. This print has experienced approx. 240% growth in value in the past five years.
From his kaleidoscopic Psalms series, Exaudi Domine depicts a perfectly symmetrical circle of butterfly wings. The Latin title of the print refers to a psalm from the Old Testament, making this series one of Hirst's most overt references to religion. The carefully arranged butterfly wings resemble a stained glass window, and also allude to the fragility of life. Unlike other works in the series, which are characterised by more vivid colour, Exaudi Domine is composed of a muted and subdued palette. The print is the most popular in the Psalms series in the past five years, with value growth of approx. 225% since 2017.
Part of his 12 Woodcut Spots series, Cyclizine focuses on a grid of four coloured spots, perhaps Hirst's most infamous subject. Like other works in his expansive Spots series, Cyclizine takes its title from a chemical compound chosen at random by the artist. Part of a small signed edition of 48, this work has performed particularly well in the past five years, experiencing approx. 210% value growth.
This rousing and macabre 2007 print pictures For The Love Of God, the pièce de résistance of Hirst's deathly oeuvre. The original work is the most expensive work of art by a living artist, costing Hirst an enormous £15 million to finance. This print shows the diamond encrusted skull head-on against a black ground, making this a dramatic expression of the modern momento mori. This signed print edition had experienced value growth by approx. 170% since 2017.
Finally, yet another work from Hirst's extensive Spots series, Ala-Met forms part of Hirst's top 10 investable prints. The work is just one of Hirst's Spots works, of which there are over 1000 that were created between 1988 and 2011. Released in 2011, this particular woodcut is part of a limited edition of just 55 prints. The methodical and scientifically-informed print has grown in value by over 150% since 2017.
Find out more about Damien Hirst prints as alternative investment assets in our Ultimate Print Market Report.