Exhibited internationally and attracting strong prices at auction, Damien Hirst’s work continues to be in demand from collectors all over the world. Here we take a look at what all prospective sellers should consider before parting with their artworks, from the timing of a sale to the condition of a piece.
When is the best time to sell a Hirst print?
It’s always worth thinking carefully about when you sell, and what you’re up against. As with most things, timing is everything. Often a major gallery show or retrospective can drive prices up for an artist and Hirst is no exception.
Interest in Hirst’s editions rose after his blockbuster show at the 2017 Venice Biennale and his sellout 2018 exhibition at the White Cube of paintings inspired by Pierre Bonnard. October 2020 saw the artist open an exhibition entitled End of a Century at his Newport Street Gallery. Running until March 2021 it will feature installations, sculptures and paintings – read sharks in formaldehyde and medicine cabinets galore – from Hirst’s heyday as a Young British Artist in the ’80s and ’90s and is sure to drive interest in prints derived from these series.
Sellers should also bear in mind that if a similar piece is on the secondary market you don’t want to have to compete against it, a move which would only serve to affect both prices negatively. It’s best to wait until there seems to be a gap or evidence of a desire for the Hirst you are selling.
How much can a Hirst print sell for?
It can be tricky to value prints, however a good guide is to look at past prices which are made public by auction houses. When comparing your Hirst print with one sold at auction you should pay particular attention to the edition size and the date of the sale as these can give a good indication of what to expect for your own print. It’s important to remember that signed, numbered editions are valued more highly than test proofs (the un-numbered proofs made to test out inks and the look of the piece), but all are collectable within the right market conditions.
If you have any doubts over the value of a piece you can request a valuation from our Damien Hirst broker, and hear back within 12 hours.
Can you prove your Hirst print is authentic?
The most important thing for a prospective buyer considering the purchase of a work of art is authenticity. For this reason it’s essential to prove the provenance of a piece – keep every scrap of paperwork related to your purchase of the artwork as a lack of documentation can severely affect the value of a piece, whether at auction or private sale.
Many Hirst prints will be signed however a signature should not be considered the be all and end all of authenticity as these can be faked. In 2016 a number of fake Hirsts flooded the market, putting prospective collectors on edge until it was confirmed that these works – which came in cheap frames and without proof of provenance, but did bear a signature and the artist’s studio stamp – were counterfeits and had subsequently been removed from various sales. It can be more helpful to know that the work came from a reputable gallery, dealer or auction house as this proves the piece has been carefully examined and authenticated in the past.
If you have any doubts over the authenticity of a print you can always get in touch with the Hirst Authentication Committee (HIAC) which works closely with the artist to provide collectors with a ‘cost-effective and efficient process with which to verify the authenticity of his prints and artworks, as well as aiming to clarify confusion over artworks mistakenly attributed to him.’ Authentication sessions are held approximately six times a year.
Has your Hirst print been kept in good condition?
After provenance, condition is perhaps the most important thing prospective buyers will consider when looking for a Hirst print. Over the years prints may bear signs of wear and tear; paper can buckle, the sun can damage the colours, tape can leave a mark, and a sheet can become stained or discolored.
If a piece is not in perfect condition you can send it to an expert conservator who can flatten the paper and ensure any signs of damage are lessened or removed entirely. However, prevention is always better than cure, and it’s important to keep your artworks safe from damage by mounting them on acid free paper behind UV protective glass, keeping the temperature stable and humidity to a minimum. You should always handle and store unframed prints with care, wearing gloves and keeping them away from potential damaging agents such as light and water.
Is your print signed or unsigned?
Damien Hirst’s prints can range from editions of 50 to 1000, averaging at around 150, and can be signed or unsigned. Typically a signed piece in a smaller edition will be more valuable but larger editions will not necessarily put buyers off when an artist is in demand.
Should you sell at auction or privately?
Whether at auction or through private sale, there are advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into consideration. Deciding on the right platform to sell a work will depend on your own level of confidence and expertise in the art market. In short, auction houses and galleries will often take significant fees off seller’s. We charge absolutely nothing to sell. This is because we know we have a buyer in the markets we specialise in. Read more in our Guide to Auction versus Private Sale.
Making the most of your investment comes down to understanding how your piece compares to similar works on the current market. Damien Hirst is hugely popular, so if you are ready to sell a piece and cash in on your investment, do your homework, find the best market and present your art in the best possible way.
If you’d like any more advice on how to sell a Hirst, just let us know. Our brokers’ expertise is extensive in the markets in which we specialise.