How artist Damien Hirst 'made £110m in two days' then nearly lost it

Best of times, Hirst of times: How artist Damien, 54, ‘made £110million in two days’ then nearly lost it all

  • Damien Hirst once made £110million from one Sotheby’s auction of his art work
  • He would sometimes make ‘30 or 40m’ in his ‘double lottery rollover weekends’
  • Artist, 54, nearly lost control of finances and would withdraw thousands at time 
  • Was part of Young British Artist movement of the 1990s along with Tracey Emin

Damien Hirst was so wealthy at the height of his fame that he once made £110million from one auction.

But despite his enormous income, the artist nearly lost control of his spiralling finances.

The 54-year-old said he would sometimes make ‘30 or 40million’ in what were dubbed his ‘double lottery rollover weekends’ – but ended up in financial trouble after using multiple bank cards to withdraw what seemed like free money.

Damien Hirst, 54, (pictured with girlfriend Sophie Cannell, 26) as so wealthy at the height of his fame that he once made £110million from one auction but he almost lost control of his finances

The artist, best known for his shark suspended in formaldehyde, was at one point forced to sell off part of his art collection to pay his staff’s wages as he struggled to ‘hang on’ to his fortune.

‘I would have lost everything if I hadn’t been able to keep on making money,’ he told Idler magazine.

‘I’d always made more money the next year than the year before. But it was unsustainable… People say: it’s easy to make a fortune but it’s hard to hang on to one.’

During his initial period of wild success, he said he was irresponsible with his new-found wealth, adding: ‘I felt like the machines were giving me cash for free.’

In 2008, Hirst held a party to celebrate Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, a two-day Sotheby’s auction of his works that netted him more than £110million (pictured at the event)

As his celebrity grew, Damien found that he was struggling to keep up with the ‘ugly monster’ it had become (pictured at Sotheby’s in 2008)

He told how he would withdraw £2,000 a go from five different bank accounts, ‘fill my pockets with cash’, and party for three days.

He added: ‘My manager would say to me: “You’ve had another double rollover lottery weekend.” I’d make like 30 or 40million between Friday and Monday.’

In 2008, Hirst held a party to celebrate Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, a two-day Sotheby’s auction of his works that netted him more than £110million.

But as his celebrity grew, Hirst found that he was struggling to keep up with the ‘ugly monster’ it had become.

‘They all love you. The bank loves you, and the accountants love you, because they’re taking your money,’ he said. ‘I just realised that things didn’t add up. But before you know it, suddenly you’ve got an overdraft when before you had loads of cash.’

Damien said at the peak of his wealth he would withdraw thousands of pounds at a time and felt like cash machines were giving him free money

The artist, best known for his shark suspended in formaldehyde, was at one point forced to sell off part of his art collection to pay his staff’s wages

Hirst, who was part of the Young British Artist movement of the 1990s along with Tracey Emin, said at one point his London head office had 42 staff. 

He added: ‘You start by thinking you’ll get one assistant and before you know it you’ve got biographers, fire eaters, f****** minstrels and lyre players all wandering around.’

Hirst is in a relationship with former ballet dancer Sophie Cannell, 26. He split with Maia Norman, his partner of 20 years and mother of his three children, in 2012.  

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