A Buyer’s Guide To Damien Hirst

by MyArtBroker
Sanctum Altar by Damien Hirst - MyArtBrokerSanctum Altar © Damien Hirst 2009
Celine Fraser

Celine Fraser, Post Sales Manager[email protected]

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If you are in the market to buy a Damien Hirst print, here are a few pieces of advice before you start your search, to make sure you find the right piece at the right price.

Looking to sell a Hirst print instead? Read our dedicated Damien Hirst Sellers Guide.

Why collect Damien Hirst?

Hirst prints have become part of the new canon, and no collection of contemporary art from the last few decades is complete without one. Since he burst onto the market in the late ’80s as part of the controversial, yet influential YBA (Young British Artist) group, Damien Hirst has been racking up headlines and record prices for his work. He started making prints after a decade of fame, fortune and controversy with his painting and sculpture, producing his limited-edition print series – The Last Supper – in 1999, four years after winning the Turner Prize.

While Hirst had his heyday back in the ’90s and the 2000s, his work is still widely collected today. Thanks, partially, to the fact that, while some editions can sell for six-figure sums at auctions, others remain accessible to newer collectors.

Is Damien Hirst worth investing in?

Recent years have seen Hirst’s work sell for a steady increase at auction. Interest and demand for Hirst remains high, with his work, on average, steadily appreciating in value, although prone to short-term fluctuations.

Over the last ten years sale results for Hirst are dominated by works estimated under $10,000, suggesting that the market for his editions is stronger than ever, and more robust than even that of his original paintings. After some fluctuation during and following the COVID pandemic, Hirst's market increased steadily throughout 2022. In particular, the market for complete sets has has grown to 15% of the artist's total secondary print market, suggesting that there is a growing demand for full portfolios.

To learn more about the highs and lows of the Contemporary print market, download our 5-Year Market Report here

How much are Damien Hirst prints worth?

In 2022, signed limited edition Damien Hirst prints sold for anywhere between £700 and £151,200 at auction. At the top end of this range was the sale of a complete set of H9: The Virtues, produced in collaboration with HENI Editions, and sold for £151,200 (including fees) on the 14th of September 2022, at Phillips; the auction sale claimed the record for the most expensive Damien Hirst print-multiple to be sold at auction ever.

Damien Hirst prints will command higher prices due to their edition size, popularity, rarity and provenance. All these factors should be taken into account when considering an artwork, however the most important thing is whether you love it and would like to live with it. While art can be a secure investment it is also something that can enrich our lives and those of future generations.

Our soon to launch, dedicated print market index, MyPortfolio, will be able to offer the more nuanced and case-by-case answers demanded by this question; click here to find out more.

What types of Damien Hirst prints are for sale?

Before buying a work by Damien Hirst it’s important to familiarise with the various styles and series that have shaped his prolific output over the years. From woodcut spot prints and butterfly etchings, to screen-printed editions of the diamond skull and foil-blocked butterflies, skulls and pills – Hirst’s prints come in a range of mediums, dimensions and edition sizes; some are glazed or embellished with ‘diamond dust’, sometimes over the whole surface of the artwork or in certain areas in order to add impact.

Throughout his career, Hirst has produced both stand-alone editions and portfolio sets. Many of these portfolios have since been split and sold as individual prints – The Last Supper being a good example. In 2014, Hirst produced a print series titled The Cure, which was released as 30 individual prints as well as a complete boxed set.

The dimensions of Hirst’s prints also vary. Most are smaller than 1m x 1m. An exception to this is his 2005 editioned wallpaper panels, New Religion, where each edition is composed of six 2m x 2m panels. Edition sizes typically span from around 50 to 150, with additional artist’s proofs. There are, of course, exceptions: between 2009-15, Hirst published prints with Paul Stolper in much-smaller editions of 14 or 15. Most recently the Butterfly Rainbow and Butterfly Heartprints created to raise money for the NHS were made in editions of up to 4,150.

What are some of Damien Hirst's most popular prints?

Perhaps the most sought after of Hirst’s prints are the Spot works that are based on his Pharmaceutical series of paintings. These tend to be very popular on the secondary market along with his homage to Pop Art and Mickey Mouse, and any of his Butterfly works, including his tributes to the NHS created during 2020 lockdown.

Of his most recent editions, Hirst's continued development of his Spot paintings in collaboration with HENI Editions, has proven popular in the short term, namely with his series The Currency from July 2021. For his most recent series, Paper Veils, released in November 2022, time will only tell.

After extensive data analysis, which looks at the last 5-years of Damien Hirst's prints' auction performance, these are some of the prints that we think are worth looking out for in 2023.

  1. Sandwich: 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’. This particular print has experienced considerable value growth in recent years, increasing by over 375% since 2017.
  2. Vipera Lebetina: 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.
  3. Paper Veils: Hirst's latest series, released with HENI Primary in November 2022, is a unique collection in which the artist has used oil paint to further develop his Veils prints and paintings. The originals play on his famous Spot artworks. Paper Veils features 100 large artworks and 200 small artworks, priced at $45,000 and $25,000. Although these are original oil paintings, and their recency means that it is impossible to know yet whether they will stand the test of time, due to their availability and price point this series will appeal to buyers of his editioned prints.

Of course, when buying a print, the primary guiding factor should always be which artworks appeal to you, and which you will take most pride in owning.

To explore our full breakdown of the top 10 most investable Damien Hirst prints for 2023, read our Hirst Market Watch here.

How can you be certain a Hirst is genuine?

As with any artist who uses assistants or publishers to create his work Hirst’s print market is susceptible to counterfeits. In 2016 auction houses and dealers saw an influx of fakes and have been on guard ever since. Many Hirst prints are signed and if you’re buying through a reputable broker or auction house you should have nothing to fear. It is still important to have the correct documentation, which can prove the provenance of a work.

Some existing Hirst prints will have been authenticated by the now defunct Hirst Authentication Committee (HIAC). Where editions have been produced with a publishing house like HENI Editions, there will be an authentication certificate.

In every case, paperwork proving ownership and history should always be provided by the seller. Purchasing your print or original work through a reputable broker or auction house is also highly recommended. While many serious collectors may have works available, it is important to involve a third party to authenticate the work’s value and mediate the sale for added protection. If you need a specialist to authenticate your Hirst print, contact MyArtBroker and we can manage this process for you.

How do you check the condition of a Damien Hirst print?

Before buying it’s a good idea to examine any Hirst print in a raking light which will point out any flaws in the print or sheet. Over the years paper can buckle due to changes in temperature and humidity, or become stained or faded. Most works will come with a condition report which should explain if there is any damage, and if it is not too severe you should not be put off as an expert conservator can work wonders to bring a piece back to life, however this will come at a cost.

If you cannot view a print in person, ask the seller to provide a high-resolution photograph of the artwork – ideally without the frame and mount – so you can check for signs of damage.

Once you have purchased a print by Hirst it’s important to look after it in order to protect its value and aesthetic impact. Keep it out of direct sunlight and minimise electric light when it is not being viewed. The print should be set behind an acid free mount and UV protective glass. If unframed, prints should be stored flat and in darkness.

Find out more in our guide to restoring and caring for modern and contemporary prints.

Where can I buy a Damien Hirst print in 2023?

Prints by Hirst can be found easily through auction houses, private dealers or brokers, such as MyArtbroker. Bear in mind you will pay more when you buy via a highstreet gallery, and most auction houses will change you 25% on the hammer, plus VAT. 

Starting out collecting art this way can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. As we’ve seen above, whether you are a first-time buyer or a seasoned collector, one of the keys to starting to collect Damien Hirst art is buying from a trusted source. Always take expert guidance on the value, condition and provenance of a piece – something that a professional seller will be able to offer.

The most important thing is to buy from somewhere that makes the process comfortable and transparent – buying any print should be an exciting prospect, not something that makes you nervous!

Want to find Damien Hirst art for sale? Browse our Damien Hirst artworks.

If you’d like to find out more about sales formats, read our Guide to Auction versus Private Sale.

Why use MyArtBroker to find your first Damien Hirst?

At MyArtBroker we offer a safe and simple solution to buyers, connecting you directly with our expert brokers, who — if you are wishing to purchase a particular piece of Damien Hirst art to either start or grow your collection — can assist you in this search with our large network of collectors looking to buy and sell daily. Our brokers will also condition check and authenticate artworks, so you can have confidence before you buy.

A dedicated broker

MyArtBroker offers a secure space to connect you as a buyer with an expert broker— you can get to know our friendly specialists here.

Your personal broker will work with you to find the Damien Hirst you’re looking for at the price you’re willing to pay. Our experts will also condition check and authenticate artworks, so you can have confidence before you buy, as well as help arrange delivery.

We offer both the sense of trust and comfort that comes with meeting with a specialist personally, as well as the efficiency, transparency and ease of an online process.

Our network

Our global network consists of over 30,000 collectors buying and selling works daily, as well as dealers, collectors, galleries and independent experts globally that work with us to ensure we can offer the most covetable and authentic Damien Hirst works. Our website has 75,000 visitors every month, and we regularly publish pieces tracking the artist’s market performance, keep up to date with new works, auction results and news, as well as offer his updated biography and informative essays on all Damien Hirst editions.

MyArtBroker has access to a worldwide network of art collectors selling Damien Hirst artwork, so get in touch with us if you’re interested in buying an Damien Hirst print and we’ll talk you through the process.

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