Hirst rewards lovers of his hot spots

Intrepid fans who made 30,000 mile pilgrimage win prints that could be worth thousands
  • @MrNickClark

Three art lovers travelled thousands of miles and spent thousands of dollars in pursuit of a personally dedicated spot print from Damien Hirst. And hundreds more are set to follow.

The Gagosian Gallery this month put on simultaneous exhibitions of the British artist's spot paintings in its 11 sites around the world. Hirst and the gallery's top brass promised a print to those fans who visited each one.

Millicent Wilner, a director of the Gagosian Gallery in London, said: "This was structured as a global exhibition. Damien and the gallery thought it would be extraordinary if someone made it to every location. He felt that whoever did should be rewarded with some artwork."

Valentine Uhovski was the first to complete the challenge when he walked into the Gagosian's Davies Street space in London on Friday, eight days after setting out from New York. The quest took him from America to Hong Kong, Athens, Rome, Geneva and then Paris before arriving in the UK.

He said: "I always wondered what it was like to get a golden ticket from Willy Wonka. It took me 27 years and 30,000 miles over the last week, but I feel like I finally got it." Mr Uhovski, 27, was born in Russia but moved to New York aged 10. A founder of the Artruby website, he called Hirst "one of the most significant artists of our, or any, generation".

Spot prints have recently sold from $3,500 (£2,250) to $50,000, but Mr Uhovski said "no way" would he sell his print. The value of the prints will be determined by how many people make it. So far, 760 people have registered to take the challenge, Ms Wilner said. "We know others have decided to take longer in completing the journey."

Jeff Chu walked into the New York gallery minutes after Mr Uhovski to complete the challenge. Mr Chu, a journalist for Fast Company magazine, will receive the second print in the edition and said he too would not be selling it.

Tan Wong, a founder of art blog Arrested Motion, became the third to complete the challenge, arriving in Hong Kong on Saturday.

Art fan's journey

Valentine Uhovski took eight days and travelled 30,000 miles to the 11 Gagosian galleries around the world. How much would it cost to retrace his steps, and knock off 10,000 miles in the process?

New York to Beverly Hills: 2,456 miles. £175

Beverly Hills to Hong Kong: 7,238 miles. £421

Hong Kong to Athens: 5,307 miles. £345

Athens to Rome: 655 miles. £122

Rome to Geneva: 431 miles. £69

Geneva to Paris: 257 miles. £63

Paris to London: 211 miles. £67

London back to New York: 3,459 miles. £346

Total distance: 20,014 miles. Total price*: £1,608

*If you take the cheapest of cheap deals (on expedia) and do it this week.