Peter Doig Set to Outstrip Damien Hirst as Britain’s Most Expensive Living Artist

A blockbuster Doig painting heads to Sotheby's this month.

Peter Doig, Country-rock (wing-mirror) (1996). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Damien Hirst’s reign as the most expensive living British artist may be coming to an end. The person in line to replace him? Painter Peter Doig, known for his colorful, abstracted landscapes.

The world record price for a single work by a British artist was famously set by Hirst in 2008, when his Golden Calf, a dead cow in formaldehyde, fetched £10.3 million ($17.3 million).

But experts are speculating, according to the Telegraph, that when Doig’s Country Rock (Wing-Mirror), which depicts a rainbow-colored bridge as seen from inside a car, comes up for auction at Sotheby’s London on June 30, it could push him into the lead.

The Doig painting has been lauded for its attention to detail, careful brush strokes and use of color, and is considered to be a primary example of his oeuvre. Part of the frenzy also comes from the fact that this is the first time the painting, which is part of a set of three, has been offered on the open market, having been held in the same private collection since it was created in 1999.

According to the Telegraph, “[Doig’s] prices at auction have been rising steadily in recent times, with records broken twice in the last two years: The Architect’s Home in the Ravine (1991) sold for £7.7m in London in Feb 2013 and Road House (1991) for $11,925,000 (£7,035,750) in New York in May. He set the British record for his painting The White Canoe, which sold for £5.7m in 2007, before being quickly eclipsed by Hirst and the rapidly rising prices of contemporary sculpture.” If you’re curious where the two rank on our list of the top 100 living artists, Hirst is positioned at number 10, with a value sold of $94,333,108, while Doig clocks in at number 16, with a value sold of $64,866,912. It is worth noting, however, that Doig’s prices are on the rise from previous months, while Hirst’s have fallen. And given that none of the artists that fall between Hirst and Doig are British, it would indeed put the pair neck-and-neck. 

Doig, however, has not yet let it go to his head. “[The] whole thing of attaching value to paintings, I haven’t really come to terms with that,” he told the Telegraph, “When I’m working I never think about how much the things will eventually be worth. That would be a disaster.”



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