Damien Hirst’s Former Financial Wizard Conjures More Than $13 Million for His Art Collection at Sotheby’s London

Most of the work was by Hirst, but Lucio Fontana had the top selling lot.

Lorna and Frank Dunphy. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

The collection of Damien Hirst’s former manager Frank Dunphy trounced expectations last night at Sotheby’s London, where it grossed more than £10 million ($13.2 million) and easily surpassed its pre-sale estimate of £5.2 million to £7.3 million ($6.8 million-9.5 million).

Credited as the brains behind Hirst’s commercial success, Dunphy has amassed quite a lucrative collection of his own. He put more than 200 works up for sale, primarily by Hirst and his YBA contemporaries, but also others by Andy Warhol and Lucio Fontana.

Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1961). Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

In fact, it was Fontana’s sliced 1961 canvas that became the evening’s top lot when it sold for £1.2 million ($1.6 million) with an estimate of £600,000-800,000 ($780,000-$105,000). That was followed by Warhol’s Dollar Sign (1982), which realized £730,000 ($950,000) against a £250,000 ($327,000) estimate.

“It’s been an exciting but very emotional time, particularly when viewing the whole collection hung in one place,” Dunphy said in a statement. “We have lived with so many of these pieces for so long and letting go has been made much easier by the expert and sympathetic way in which it has been dealt with by Sotheby’s.”

Andy Warhol, Dollar Sign (1982). Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

The sale featured 98 lots, which saw an impressive sell-through rate of 92 percent and bidding from 43 countries. All but one of the Hirst pictures sold, the priciest one being Boy’s ’n’ Girls ’n’ the Sun (2006), a butterfly work that went for £574,000 ($750,000). A 1997 spot painting, N-Chloroacetyl-L-Phenylalanine (PFS) Crystalline, sold an Asian buyer for £358,000 ($468,000), three times its pre-sale estimate, while Epiphany (2005) sold for £490,000 ($640,000), well over its £280,000-350,000 ($366,000-458,000) estimate. Yellow Ball, a gift from Hirst to Dunphy to commemorate his financial advisor’s retirement, brought in £298,000 ($390,000), doubling its estimate.

Damien Hirst, Smashing Yellow Ball at Peace Painting (2008). Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.


A second online-only sale of smaller works, prints, editions, and mementos closed today with a total of £292,125 ($382,000). The top lot there was a pair of Hirst prints, Psalm: Coeli Enarrant and Psalm: Domini Est Terra (2010), which sold for £16,250 ($21,000), more than doubling their high estimate.

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