Saatchi auction raises pounds 1.6m

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The Independent Online
THE YOUNG British Artists are alive and wealthy. A pounds 1.6m sale of 130 works by the leading names in contemporary art broke world records yesterday and proved that Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread and co have proved their worth.

In the sale mounted by Christie's in a converted warehouse in London - because a conventional saleroom could not house the outsize installations - work by this year's Turner Prize winner, Chris Ofili, and fellow Briton Sarah Lucas also achieved record prices.

The works came from the advertising agency mogul Charles Saatchi. He was selling 5 per cent of his collection to raise money for art-student bursaries. His decision to offload works by 97 artists prompted speculation that BritArt, the movement that has dominated the cutting-edge exhibition spaces in the Nineties, might be on the wane. The speculation could not have been more wrong. Again and again, prices more than doubled the saleroom estimates.

Hirst's cabinet of jars of internal organs of cattle called The Lovers (Spontaneous, Committed, Detached, Compromising) fetched the joint top price of the day pounds 139,000 - matched by German artist Thomas Schutte. Whiteread's cast of a sink went for pounds 133,000, a record for her. And an Ofili painting sold for pounds 21,850 against an estimate of pounds 10,000.

Charles Saatchi said last night that the works had "captured people's imagination".