New York is aflutter as Hirst's butterflies make a record $750,000

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The Independent Online

Damien Hirst's artistic takeover of New York continued yesterday with the news that one of his works has achieved a record-breaking price at auction.

Damien Hirst's artistic takeover of New York continued yesterday with the news that one of his works has achieved a record-breaking price at auction.

In Love - Out of Love, a diptych with butterflies affixed to a background of pink on one side and blue on the other, sold for $750,500 (£540,000) at a sale of contemporary art at Phillips, New York.

It far exceeded the previous auction world record of $552,500 for a Hirst, set in New York last May. Another work by Hirst consisting of cigarette butts in a wooden and glass vitrine, entitled Dead Ends Died Out, Examined, also far exceeded its pre-sale estimate, with a sale price of $508,500.

The sale marks the culmination of three months of success for Hirst in the US, where he held his first solo exhibition in five years at New York's Gagosian Gallery - and sold every piece.

The opening night, attended by such luminaries as Steve Martin, Martha Stewart and Salman Rushdie, prompted a near riot, and left Hirst the toast of New York's glitterati.

The auction price is not the highest price ever achieved for a Hirst work - Charles Saatchi recently purchased Hymn for $1.5m. But according to James Rawlin, head of twentieth century pictures at Phillips London, the steady increase in the value of Hirst's work makes him unusual. "For a contemporary artist to be selling work on what's a fairly short turnaround for such big prices is remarkable," he said. "I was at New York on Monday for the sale and it was very exciting - not just two bidders battling it out, but a wide-ranging interest from collectors all over the world."

He said the key to Hirst's increasing status at auction was the consistent quality of his work over the past 10 years. "A lot of the work from his contemporaries is already starting to look a bit dated and gimmicky. That's not happening with Hirst, and that's what people are responding to," he said.

Mr Rawlin said that the buzz created by the Gagosian exhibition had helped Hirst's sale prices. "It helps to establish his position as a blue chip name. He's far and away the most successful of his generation of British artists."

Phillips London will sell another of Hirst's works next week, an untitled "butterfly" picture.

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