Art you can eat off at Hirst sale of Pharmacy's kitchen kitsch

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The Independent Online

Crockery, cutlery and even the odd ashtray are set to become the latest Damien Hirst creations to raise millions at auction.

Crockery, cutlery and even the odd ashtray are set to become the latest Damien Hirst creations to raise millions at auction.

Sotheby's are to sell the contents of Pharmacy, Hirst's now-defunct Notting Hill restaurant, including the original paintings and drawings that were such an attraction for hungry art lovers.

More unusually, aspirin-shaped bar stools, crockery and glassware all Hirst designed and produced for the eatery will also be in the sale, expected to raise more than £3m.

The artist said yesterday he had been very disappointed when the restaurant, of which he was co-owner, ceased trading last September after a colourful five-year history.

"It was like losing a friend and I didn't know what to do with all the stuff," he said. "My original intention was to make a great place for people to be - maybe a little surreal, like eating in a chemist - but great nonetheless, and it worked.

"I think auctioning all the stuff is a great idea as that way everybody gets a chance to own a piece. I mean, I can only use so many plates and pots and pans myself."

The restaurant, which was inspired by Hirst's Pharmacy installation from 1992 (now part of the Tate collection) was opened in 1998 by Hirst with the public relations guru Matthew Freud; his partner and one of the creators of Quo Vadis restaurant, Jonathan Kennedy, and Liam Carson of the Groucho Club and Momo's.

Shortly after it opened, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society threatened legal action on the grounds that some people confused the restaurant with a real chemist's. The venue was renamed by the anagram Army Chap for a while.

The controversy certainly didn't hurt the restaurant's celebrity-magnet status and, although the momentum tailed off, there was some surprise when it closed without warning.

The sale will include the entire range of objects Hirst designed for the venture including 10 butterfly paintings, 11 wall-mounted medicine cabinets and a molecular model sculpture estimated to be worth up to £150,000. Original drawings of the first concept for the restaurant will also be sold for £2,000 upwards and items such as ashtrays are expected to sell for between £100 and £150.

The auction is at Sotheby's in London on 19 October. Oliver Barker, of Sotheby's contemporary art development, said the sale was an opportunity not only for collectors but people at every level to buy an piece of art from the Britart period. "When Pharmacy opened in 1998, it was a landmark restaurant, typifying everything that was happening in Britain at that time, in terms of art, food, celebrity, New Labour and Cool Britannia."

The proceeds will benefit Scope, the charity for disabled people of which Hirst is a supporter and whose classic collection box was the model for one of his sculptures.