What's the Hirst industry worth?

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The Independent Online
CRITICS MAY argue over the artistic merit of Damien Hirst's work, but its value in cash terms is not in doubt. As one London dealer said: "It's impossible to put a figure on him. Anything he does at the moment will sell."

In fact, everything Britart's bad boy millionaire touches does appear to turn to gold. At pounds 1,000 apiece, the sale of his 1,000 limited editions of Snowblind tot up to pounds 1m for starters. His stuffed animals, including his dissected cow and sheep, have made him another pounds 1m. His famous shark piece, entitled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, fetched pounds 50,000.

Then there are his spin paintings, made by swirling paint over a canvas leaving an abstract pattern of colour. The whole process takes a matter of seconds to produce. Recently one of his spin paintings, won in a competition by a Big Issue seller from Liverpool, fetched pounds 71,900 at Christie's.

Earlier this year a glass-fronted, fibre-board medicine cabinet entitled God was sold for pounds 188,500 at Christie's, London, while at Sotheby's New York his Asthmatic Escaped cleared pounds 128,000.

Graham Southern, director of the contemporary department at Christie's, said of the spin sale: "It was an astounding day. I was hoping the Hirst cabinet might make it over pounds 100,000, but when it reached pounds 170,000, it was just astonishing."

Hirst is part-owner of Pharmacy, the prohibitively trendy restaurant in Notting Hill, west London, that is planning to float on the stock market in a deal which could value it at up to pounds 10m. That works out at more than pounds 50,000-a-seat.

Recently he ventured into the music business - and even there proved to have the Midas touch. His unofficial World Cup anthem Vindaloo, a project with two friends, sold 380,000 copies in pre-orders alone - double the orders for the official World Cup tune.

And now simply being Damien Hirst can apparently make money. His autobiography is priced at an astonishing pounds 59.95.

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