A man who bought one of Damien Hirst’s now infamous medicine cabinets for £600 is putting it up for auction.
Robert Tibbles, a London based bond salesman, began collecting art as a hobby. Amassing works he enjoyed by young artists it just so happens that these young artists went on to become the notorious YBA (Young British Artists).
For example, Hirst’s degree-show medicine cabinet Bodies (1989) was bought by Tibbles for £600, which Hirst himself even installed in Tibbles home (only to rehang it at a later date after it fell of the fall). Now, the cabinet is valued between £1.2m and £1.8m at an auction with Phillips.
“I lived with that medicine cabinet for seven years with people telling me it was crap, and that I should send it back,” Tibbles told The Art Newspaper
Of Tibbles, Hirst told the Financial Times, “I remember Robert very well, he was so excited by the art. It was in the days when I installed my own work in people’s houses, so I went round and met him and he made me tea.”
“Robert is a proper collector and I’m really touched he kept and lived with my work for all those years,” Hirst added.
Another of Hirst’s works in Tibbles collection is his spot painting Antipyrylazo III (1994), which, like the medicine cabinet, Tibbles bought the year it was made. It is now estimated to sell between £900,000 and £1.2m. Along with Charles Saatchi, Tibbles was one of Hirst’s first buyers.
Of Hirst’s “spot painting”, Tibbles says the artist told him that every single one of its 2,050 circles is hand-painted in a different colour. “I haven’t managed to prove him wrong yet,” he told the Financial Times.
A total of six of Hirst’s works will be up for sale from Tibbles collection, also including a Spin painting.
Other artists in Tibbles collection include Julian Opie’s Imagine you are driving (4) (1997), (£20,000-£30,000). He also has a Gilbert & George: the double portrait, City Fairies (1991), (£120,000-£180,000), a work Tibbles felt spoke to him as a gay man working in the city.
Tibbles also has works by Marcus Taylor, and the YBA tutor Michael Craig-Martin, who Tibbles now considers one of his friends.
Tibbles collection amasses over fifteen year’s worth of collecting, and would certainly be considered art he wanted to live with over the years rather than works he simply bought as investments.
So if he loves these works and has lived with them all these years, why sell? A combination of a change in his work situation and, as he tells The Art Newspaper, “Ultimately, I had this epiphany and realised, actually, [the collection is] complete.”
As a combined collection their estimate is about £4 million. “The truth is,” Tibbles told The Art Newspaper, “the valuations have always remained remarkably stable.”
The auction house is dubbing the 30-strong collection the “Cool Britannia collection” they will be on sale February 13 and 14.