A Rolls-Royce Driver Plowed Over a $3 Million Damien Hirst Sculpture on the Palm Beach Lawn of a Prominent Collector Couple

The sculpture is from Hirst's 2017 Venice blockbuster, 'Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable.'

A Rolls Royce crashed into Damien Hirst's Sphinx, reportedly valued at $3 million, at the Palm Beach home of art collectors Steven and Lisa Tananbaum. Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Police.

The collection of a prominent Florida art world couple took a big hit last month—literally.

A 66-year-old driver crashed her Rolls-Royce on the property of hedge-fund magnate Steven Tananbaum and his wife, Lisa Tanabaum. She damaged a $3 million Damien Hirst sculpture in their garden before plowing through a decorative fence and off of a five-foot-tall seawall, nosediving into the sand below.

The accident took place on Canterbury Lane just after 6 p.m. on March 31. The Palm Beach Fire Rescue reported to the scene to bring the driver to St. Mary’s Medical Center. The Palm Beach resident did not appear to be intoxicated, but had no memory of the events leading up to the crash, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.

The initial report stated that the homeowner was reporting damages to a “coral art sculpture” valued at $3 million.

Damien Hirst, Sphinx Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/SIAE 2017

Damien Hirst, Sphinx. Photo by Prudence Cuming Associates ©Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/SIAE 2017.

A quick check through online property records confirms that the beachfront home on Canterbury Lane belongs to the Tananbaums. The couple purchased the residence for $26.4 million in 2011, according to Florida Parcels, a real estate website that aggregates information from public records. The home is now valued at $50.8 million.

The detail about the sculpture being made of coral was a significant clue that the piece was by Hirst, who staged a blockbuster exhibition, “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” during the 2017 Venice Biennale.

Every work in the show was decorated to appear as if it had been salvaged from a 2,000-year-old shipwreck, still crusted in barnacles and other aquatic life. The artist even created a faux documentary about the purported recovery of the works from the watery depths.

The Rolls Royce that crashed into Damien Hirst's <em>Sphinx</em>, reportedly valued at $3 million, at the Palm Beach home of art collectors Steven and Lisa Tananbaum. Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Police.

The Rolls Royce that crashed into Damien Hirst’s Sphinx, reportedly valued at $3 million, at the Palm Beach home of art collectors Steven and Lisa Tananbaum. Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Police.

Photographs from the Palm Beach police appear to show Hirst’s sculpture Sphinx as the affected work. Fortunately, though the Rolls Royce wound up on the beach, the piece only appears to have been knocked off its pedestal, not driven into the ocean. There is no word on the extent of the damage to the work, but Fox58, a local news affiliate in Bakersfield, California, reports that the seawall will cost $10,000 to repair.

The Tananbaums have been known to get litigious over their art collection, which is said to include works by Brice Marden, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Willem de Kooning, Jenny Saville, Takashi Murakami, Andreas Gursky, and Gerhard Richter. (Steven is a trustee at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.)

In 2018, Steven sued Larry Gagosian over three monumental Jeff Koons sculptures he claimed to have paid for three years prior but never received. A judge agreed to hear the suit the following year, but the parties settled in February 2020.


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