The Investment Guide To Damien Hirst

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Jasper Tordoff

Jasper Tordoff, Specialist[email protected]

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Damien Hirst, undeniably one of the most recognisable names in contemporary art, rose to prominence as a conceptual sculptor known for the preservation of flies, sharks and farm animals in formaldehyde, and placing cigarette butts and medicines within vitrines. Hirst's approach to prints and editions has broadened his market reach and elevated his celebrity status. By incorporating AI and creating edition sets based on demand, Hirst has successfully expanded his presence as one of the most prolific blue chip artists in the contemporary prints market.

In this investment report, we examine Hirst's's print market performance spanning the past seven years. Leveraging auction and sales data from our dedicated database focused on prints and editions, our objective is to provide valuable insights to help you determine whether investing in Damien Hirst is a wise decision for 2024.

Damien Hirst Seven Year Print Market Performance

Hirst Sales Value And Lots Sold 2017 - 2023 by MyArtBroker 2024Hirst Sales Value And Lots Sold 2017 - 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

Is Buying A Hirst Print a Good Investment?

Over the past seven years, Hirst's print market has shown consistent year-on-year (YoY) growth. In 2018, sales reached £1.2 million, marking a 5% increase in 2019 to £1.3 million. 2020 saw a 34% increase in sales value, followed by an impressive 42% surge to £2.4 million in 2021. Most noteworthy, 2022 witnessed a remarkable 72% increase, setting a record at £4.2 million in sales value, and lots sold, for Hirst's print market performance over the seven-year period.

All figures above are based off of the hammer price, without auction fees.

Hirst 2023 Print Market Performance

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What Happened In Hirst's Print Market Performance in 2023?

In 2023, Hirst's print market saw a decline, with sales value contracting by 39% compared to the previous year, totalling £2.6 million (hammer). The number of lots sold also decreased by 23%, reaching 325 lots, which led to an average selling price (ASP) of £7,974 for a single print. Despite these declines, Hirst's print market performance in 2023 remained strong, ranking as his second-best over the seven-year period, surpassing 2021 in both sales value and lots sold.

Hirst Average Selling Price

Hirst Average Selling Price 2017 - 2023 by MyArtBroker 2024Hirst Average Selling Price 2017 - 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

The peak ASP for Hirst's print market was £10,365 in 2018. Despite only a 3% increase in sales value that year, there was a 25% reduction in lots sold compared to the previous year, in 2017, decreasing from 160 to 119. If the lots sold were the same, the ASP would have been £7,709, which is just slightly higher than the previous year. This indicates a slight increase in sales value and sustained interest in Hirst's print market.

In 2019, momentum picked up with 164 lots entering the market, leading to an ASP that was 5% higher than that of 2017, marking an even more significant increase in sales value for HIrst's print market. This upward trend continued from 2020 to 2022, with each year showing an ASP increase.

In 2023, the ASP, sales value, and lots sold all contracted mirroring supply and demand. Nonetheless, the ASP remained slightly above the 2019 lows despite a significant increase in lots sold, indicating the strong value of Hirst's prints in the 2023 art market.

Hirst Most Popular Print Series

Hirst Trending Print Series: Sales Value x Lots Sold In 2023 - MyArtBroker 2024Hirst Trending Print Series: Sales Value x Lots Sold In 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

In the 2023 print market, Hirst's top-performing print series were largely driven by his Heni drops. The Virtues (2021), was the highest ranking in terms of sales value, an achievement fuelled by the successful sales of three complete sets and and an additional 53 individual works from the eight-part collection.

The Empresses (2022), a more recent Heni drop comprised of five prints, lead in terms of lots sold in 2023, with 59 prints finding buyers. While this series performed well in terms of sales volume, its sales value was slightly lower compared to the earlier release, The Virtues, indicating higher demand and value for the latter.

Also in 2022, Hirst's controversial and first Heni drop to feature NFTs, The Currency, also demonstrated consistent market performance in terms of both sales value and lots sold. However, despite the success of these print collections, it was arguably Hirst's Spots series that garnered the most investor interest.

“All the recent collaborations Hirst has done with Heni have created a new type of hype. He is a great self-publicist. In a way, this has both positive and negative effects on the market, as there is greater interest in Hirst's older works, but the market becomes diluted with the newer releases produced in hefty edition numbers.”
Jasper Tordoff

Known for its precise gridded composition of colourful circles and its association with pharmaceuticals, the Spots series resonated strongly with investors in terms of sales value for individual prints. In a live panel discussion with our sales experts discussing the prints and editions market, Jasper Tordoff highlighted the disparity in demand between Heni drops and earlier print series, attributing it to the hype generated by recent collaborations between Hirst and Heni. This phenomenon, while boosting interest in older works, has also diluted the market with newer releases produced in large edition numbers.


For deeper insights into the numbers and marketing strategies behind Hirst and Heni's collaboration, explore Damien Hirst & HENI: Unraveling the Most Lucrative Venture in the Print Market?

Buying With MyArtBroker's Live Trading Floor

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The Most In-Demand Hirst Prints Within Our Network

Despite a slight decline in sales value and lots sold in Hirst’s 2023 print market, his artworks remain highly coveted on our live trading floor. With the advent of new art technologies, online buying is becoming an increasingly popular choice, especially among younger collectors.

Hirst's Spots series are currently in demand in our trading floor, underscoring their rarity and appeal. Of particular interest is the Silver Spot Landscape, which hasn't been offered at auction since 2014 and will likely draw attention if it reappears on the public market. Also attracting interest on our trading floor are prints from Hirst’s H4 Veils series, released in 2008 and 2018, known for their Pointillist-inspired marks showcasing Hirst's versatility as an artist. Despite infrequent appearances at public auction, these works command high prices, further demonstrating their investment value. Additionally, The Empresses and The Virtues remain consistently sought after on our trading floor reflecting their recent success on the 2023 art market landscape.

To learn more about how digital infrastructure is influencing the art world and trade listen to our latest podcast where Charlotte Stewart sits down with Arcual.

Browse Damien Hirst prints on the Trading Floor and find out more about the print market growth on the MAB100 Print Index.

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Comparative Blue Chip Market Performance 2017 - 2023

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Seven Blue Chip Artists markets To Know

The chart above displays Hirst's ASP in the print market over seven years, alongside six other well-established blue chip artists renowned for their strong performance in prints and editions.

Two notable observations emerge from the chart. Firstly, Hirst's print ASP appears notably lower compared to other markets. However, this doesn't necessarily imply poor performance or diminished value in his prints. Instead, it reflects unique market dynamics. Hirst's print market distinguishes itself with a distinctive price distribution, featuring a significant volume of lower-priced sales. Despite the affordability of many prints, the market sustains high activity levels, presenting an appealing entry point for newcomers.

Secondly, the chart instills confidence in Hirst's established blue chip print performance. In 2018, the ASP of a Hirst print paralleled the performance of David Hockney. To read more on about Hockney's print market performance, read our David Hockney Investment Guide.

Further bolstering confidence un Hirst's print market is the minimal fluctuation in the ASP over the past seven years, despite the increasing volume of Hirst works sold on the market. This underscores the sustained value of Hirst prints.

Hirst Print Market Price Distribution

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Where To Start When Looking To Buy A Hirst Print?

The pricing structure within Hirst’s print market is distinctive, reflecting its notable success, albeit on a smaller scale compared to artists like Andy Warhol, whose sales of complete sets reach seven figures, resulting in a broader distribution. To delve deeper into Warhol's print market performance, refer to our Andy Warhol Investment Guide. Understanding the pricing distribution in Hirst's market is beneficial, providing valuable insight for navigating his extensive body of work and diverse series. Jasper Tordoff, our Damien Hirst specialist, recommends considering this aspect when contemplating a Hirst print purchase.

The least performing sector of Hirst’s print market comprises works priced at £20,000 and above, accounting for 6.5% of his print market by lots sold in 2023. These sales in 2023 included complete sets of The Virtues, typically fetching prices above £65,000 (hammer). However, there are more affordable complete sets available. In 2023, The Last Supper came to the market and sold for £41,816 with fees. Despite being lesser-known, rarity and works emblematic of formative years usually heighten investment potential, potentially resulting in a profitable resale. Other works in this category include Hirst’s Spots series and a rare-to-the-market Unique Editioned Proofs (UP) of The Souls On Jacob's Ladder, highlighting the popularity of Hirst’s butterfly works.

“A good place where I tell my clients to start when collecting Hirst is by series or by the year the artwork was produced.”
Jasper Tordoff

Listen to MyArtBroker's A Buyer's Guide To Damien Hirst

A more substantial portion of Hirst’s print market, constituting 19%, comprises works priced below £20,000 and up to £10,000. In this category, arguably the most sought-after print is the complete set of The Empresses due to the high sales volume of these works. Although, The Currency works can also be found within this price range, along with individual prints from The Virtues and other works belonging to Psalms.

Works priced below £10,000 and up to £5,000 constitute 28% of Hirst’s print market, with certain works from the same series mentioned earlier falling into this category. Success in this bracket largely hinges on the ability to discern market trends and determine optimal buying and selling times. However, for enthusiasts of Hirst’s Skulls and Butterflies, individual works from Love Poems, The Souls, Till Death Do Up Part, and The Aspects can also be found in this price range.

Hirst Rare To The Market Series In 2023 - MyArtBroker 2024Hirst Rare To The Market Series In 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

Hirst Print Works Below £5,000

Given the extensive reach of Hirst’s market and his consistent prolific output, nearly half of Hirst’s print market in 2023, totalling 46% by lots sold, offered opportunities to acquire works for under £5,000. Whether constrained by budget or considering the first foray into art investment, this category presents a vibrant opportunity to obtain prints from a renowned blue chip artist's portfolio.

Hirst prints available for less than £5,000 encompass works from series such as H5 Colour Space. These early, Heni production prints feature Hirst's iconic Spots motif but in a disorderly array, evoking a Pollock-esque riot of colour. For those unable to afford prints from Hirst's formative Spots series, these works offer an alternative purchasing option at a fraction of the cost.

Other works obtainable for under £5,000 include other print works from various Heni drops, such as H8 Fruitful and Forever and H7 Rainbow Editions. Prints from both the In A Spin and The Cure series are currently attainable for around £5,000. However, The Cure prints, which are exceptionally rare in the market, encapsulate Hirst's rebellious spirit and his fascination with pharmaceuticals. The scarcity of these works, coupled with their thematic depth, could suggest the potential for an increase in value over time.

Hirst Top Ten Selling Print Works In 2023 - MyArtBroker 2024Hirst Top Ten Selling Print Works In 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

The Most In Demand Hirst Prints From Investors & Heni Drops

Early Works: Spots, Butterflies and Skulls

Investors in Hirst prints are often drawn to specific categories that have consistently demonstrated strong demand and potential for appreciation over time. Among these are some of his early print series, such as the Spots Series, which have become synonymous with his artistic identity. When these prints come to the market, they consistently perform well. Hirst has also dedicated a significant portion of his print portfolio to butterflies, whether as actual specimens or symbolic motifs. These works are highly sought after for their aesthetic allure and metaphorical meanings of transcience. For instance, Hirst's Love series features butterflies against bold heart shaped backgrounds, reminiscent of his series of paintings, The Four Elements (Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, Green and Blue) from 2005. In 2024, a complete set of Love Poems set a new auction record at Phillips. Lastly, the artist's skull-themed prints, including various iterations of his renowned For the Love of God diamond-encrusted skull, continue to attract collectors fascinated by themes of mortality and opulence.

Hirst has curated print collections, offering scaled down versions of his most popular paintings, sidestepping the traditional gallery system and challenging conventional notions of limited editions by making them available on-demand–whoever wants a print ,will get one.

Heni Drops

Hirst's collaboration with Heni dates back to as early as 2016, marked by the release of H1 Enter The Infinite (the tapestries), prints inspired by his early spin paintings. Among the various Heni x Hirst print publications, one of the most attention-grabbing drops was The Currency, a disorderly yet uniquely interpreted take on his Spot paintings, unveiled in July 2022 and marking the artist's debut with Palm NFT studio. Arguably the most successful Heni x Hirst drop on the secondary market has been H9 The Virtues, following his Cherry Blossom paintings (2018-2020). Individual prints and complete sets of these works consistently fuelled high demand throughout 2023. Essentially, Hirst has curated print collections, offering scaled down versions of his most popular paintings, sidestepping the traditional gallery system and challenging conventional notions of limited editions by making them available on-demand–whoever wants a print ,will get one. Once again, Hirst has revolutionised the art world's traditional conventions, a testament to the success of his Heni drops validated by investor demand.

Hirst's recent focus has been on further Heni drops. In 2023 alone, standout drops included The Beautiful Paintings, Where The Land Meets The Sea, Paper Blossoms, and The Secrets in 2024. While these prints have yet to make their mark on the secondary market, we will be eargerly watching the investment value and worth that these prove.

Listen to MyArtBroker's Art 'Print Drops' - Damien Hirst's Novel Approach To The Art Market

Liquidity In Hirst's Print Market

Hirst prints enjoy robust liquidity in the art market, a testament to their widespread recognition and appeal among collectors. Hirst strategically manages and controls his market liquidity by producing print works with edition numbers tailored to demand, effectively guaranteeing availability to interested buyers. Despite the varying opinions surrounding Hirst and his artistic practice, the breadth and solidity of his market are remarkable, buoyed by continuous releases through his frequent Heni drops. As our Commissioning Editor Erin Argun puts it, “Hirst’s collaborations with Heni mark a completely novel approach to printmaking, changing the way we speak about art production.”

“Hirst’s collaborations with Heni mark a completely novel approach to printmaking, changing the way we speak about art production.”
Erin-Atlanta Argun

Hirst's Heni releases ensure a consistent supply of prints through reputable channels, further bolstering market confidence. Consequently, Hirst prints cater to a broad spectrum of investors, from seasoned collectors to newcomers, offering diverse themes and price points. Hirst prints stand as a relatively liquid asset within the contemporary art market, supported by both demand-driven production and the artist's established market presence.

Hirst Lots Sold By Location In 2023 by MyArtBroker 2024Hirst Lots Sold By Location In 2023 © MyArtBroker 2024

Recent Market Performance and Current Opportunities in Hirst's Print Market

Examining the current landscape of buying and selling opportunities within Hirst's print market reveals a predominantly UK-centric focus, with 63% of lots sold in 2023 originating from this region. However, there is also a notable presence in the United States, which accounted for a healthy 15% of sales during the same period. Unlike some other blue chip artists whose markets are primarily concentrated in specific regions, Hirst's print market boasts a global footprint. Expansion beyond traditional art hubs has seen significant traction in European countries, Australia, Japan, and Canada, indicating a broadening interest and demand for Hirst's prints on an international scale. This global presence not only signifies the widespread appeal of Hirst's work but also presents diverse opportunities for both buyers and sellers to engage with his prints across different markets. As such, investors keen on tapping into the Hirst print market have the advantage of accessing a broad spectrum of opportunities spanning various geographic regions, offering potential for both growth and diversification within their portfolios.

Damien Hirst's Top Selling Prints

1.

The Virtues (complete set)

The complete set of H9-The Virtues sold at Phillips in June 2023 for £101,600 (fees included) and is Hirst's top selling print work for 2023. These works have proven widespread popularity since first released by HENI in February 2021. Single works from this series circulate the market in volume, but complete sets are highly sought after. Since the drop of this series, 18 complete sets have sold on the secondary market. The current average selling price for a complete set is £75,350.

2.

All You Need Is Love Love Love

In January, Hirst's artwork All You Need Is Love Love Love (2009) sold for £61,126 (with fees) at Bonhams setting a new auction record and positioning itself as the second top performing print in 2023. This signed screenprint, part of a limited edition of 50, is inspired by universal themes of love, life, and mortality, Hirst incorporates butterflies within a striking heart symbol, representing both love and the fleeting nature of existence.

3.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine (2004) is part of Hirst's Spots series, comprising a signed edition of 115. While Hirst's spot artworks have faced criticism for their perceived lack of artistry and assistant-driven production, the value of these artworks shines through their precisely crafted arrangement, giving them a distinct identity and serving as Hirst's unique signature. Each dot is perfectly spaced in even rows and columns, creating a precise pattern. Despite its controversial reception, this work has made only two appearances in the secondary market in 2023. It achieved a sale of £56,700 (fees included) in January, ranking it as the third top-selling print among Hirst's works this year.

4.

Tetrahydrocannabinol

Part of Hirst's Spots series, these pieces, despite controversy, continue to be highly coveted in the market. In our most recent Art Investment Report, we delve into the world of branded artists and how their distinctive aesthetics have become their defining marks. The consistent sales of these artworks attest to the success of branded artists. Tetrahydrocannabinol (2004) made a rare appearance at Christie's in April 2023, the first time since 2020, fetching £50,610 (including fees). This sale reflects an 84% increase in value from its previous sale in 2020 and stands among Hirst's top-selling pieces in 2023.

5.

The Last Supper (complete set)

In October, Sotheby's showcased the complete set of The Last Supper (2000) by Hirst, marking an exciting highlight of 2023. These prints are exceptionally rare in the market and represent Hirst's first print series. They made a comeback for the first time since 2020, fetching a remarkable £41,816, which was more than double the previous amount achieved in 2020.

Read The Full Market Watch Report Of Damien Hirst's Most Investable Prints

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