When Damien Hirst sold a diamond-encrusted platinum skull for $100 million amid great fanfare in 2007, it was said to be the most expensive contemporary work of art ever made.
But the world’s richest artist has now admitted that the work, called For The Love Of God, was never properly sold.
Instead, he’s revealed that it languishes in storage in London’s jewellery district, Hatton Garden, owned by himself, the White Cube art gallery and undisclosed investors.
Artist Damien Hirst with his 2007 work, For the Love of God, a diamond encrusted skull
And he still feels frustration that potential buyers shied away from the work when they were happy to splash millions on canvases smeared with paint.
‘Everyone buys into the fact that paintings cost nothing to make, but can sell for an infinite amount,’ Hirst tells a U.S. newspaper.
‘Why can they believe in that, but not the other?’ he adds. At the time of the alleged sale, Hirst’s spokesman said: ‘The skull has been sold to an investment group for $100 million [£74m].’
Sophie Cannell with Hirst’s skull. At the time the artist sold it for $100 million, it was said to be the most expensive contemporary work of art ever made
Hirst admitted that For The Love Of God was never properly sold and is stored in London’s jewellery district, Hatton Garden (pictured)
The spokesman added that Hirst retained a percentage of the work in order to oversee a global exhibition.
Critics had suggested that the high price of the skull, which is entirely covered in 8,601 flawless diamonds and cost £12 million to make, had meant that finding a buyer was proving problematic.
The identity of the buyers was kept secret and Hirst’s business manager insisted that they had not received a discount.
Hirst, who has an estimated fortune of almost £300 million, employs a factory of assistants to help with the creation of his mass-produced works, and is candid in saying that he sees his art as ‘a brand produced in a factory’.
A house that film director Stanley Kubrick bought from the father of pop impresario Simon Cowell is at the centre of a High Court battle.
Sandra Blower, who sold The Chantry in Elstree, Hertfordshire, for £6.8 million in 2008, is suing solicitors GH Canfields for £2.5 million.
Mrs Blower, 78, claims her husband, John Blower, then set up a trust for her with £2 million. But he was declared bankrupt in 2012, owing £4.8 million, and hired GH Canfields to represent him.
She alleges the firm ‘failed to properly advise’ her over the effects of the bankruptcy.
Kubrick, whose films include The Shining, bought the house in the 1960s. Cowell began his career at nearby Elstree Studios. Canfields declines to comment.
Lily misses Pammi’s superpower
Lily James (pictured) said there was ‘a bravery’ about Pamela Anderson, who she plays in the upcoming television drama Pam & Tommy
Lily James admits she’s already missing being in costume as Baywatch star Pamela Anderson in the forthcoming television drama Pam & Tommy.
‘I’ve never done anything where I looked so different,’ says the Cinderella and Mamma Mia 2 actress, 32. ‘It was thrilling.’
Surrey-born Lily had to wear fake breasts and fake tan as part of her costume and says she hated taking them off at the end of a day’s filming.
‘There was a bravery about Pamela, so it was like being stripped of these superpowers,’ she explains.
The series is about the American actress’s relationship with Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, played by Sebastian Stan, which involved a sex-tape scandal.
Lily had to wear fake breasts and fake tan as part of her costume and says she hated taking them off at the end of a day’s filming
BBC property star Martin Roberts claims the house he’s renovating is occupied by ghosts.
‘One of my builders stayed overnight in one of the rooms — and left screaming,’ says the Homes Under The Hammer presenter.
‘I haven’t seen my ghosts, but I know they’re around. The house was built in 1650, so it has 400 years of history.’
Former I’m A Celebrity contestant Roberts adds of the Welsh farmhouse: ‘One of the ghosts is called Bill, and one of the investigators who came along said he could see him sitting in the front room with a shotgun. I think he’s protecting the house.’
I do hope Bill’s a fan of home makeovers.
Romola shuns films for spuds
Atonement star Romola Garai, who turned her back on Hollywood after starring in the flop sequel Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights, says she refused to give up potatoes and be on a perpetual diet.
‘I love food, it’s a huge part of life,’ says Romola, 39.
‘But I don’t like trading in my body and thinking about it as a commodity. It’s not the way that I feel happy. But there are many, many women who don’t mind, and don’t think about it as a rape of their liberty to have to weigh 120lb [8½st].
‘It’s just taken as a fact of life: if you want to be a movie star, that’s what you have to weigh. I wasn’t up for that. I mean, I really love potatoes.’
Atonement star Romola Garai (pictured in 2019) says she refused to give up potatoes and be on a perpetual diet
This is intriguing: Hugh Bonneville, who plays the morally upright Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey, has signed a deal to write his memoirs.
Little, Brown will publish the ‘richly entertaining’ book, called Hiding Under The Piano: From Highclere To Hollywood, in October.
But how revelatory will it be? The star, 58, whose films include Scenes Of A Sexual Nature and Conspiracy Of Silence, will reveal all about his ‘bizarre Hollywood encounters’, the publisher promises.
I’m on tenterhooks.
RIP John, Chelsea’s bizarre lion tamer
Farewell to John Rendall, the socialite who bought a lion from Harrods’ pet department in the Swinging Sixties and called it Christian.
The big cat soon became a regular sight in Chelsea, as it was taken for walks along London’s King’s Road.
I hear Rendall, 76, was found dead at his desk on Sunday by his son Maximillian, a magician.
John Rendall (right) and Anthony ‘Ace’ Bourke with Christian the Lion. Rendall, 76, was found dead at his desk on Sunday by his son Maximillian, a magician
‘The reason I married John (and I was on my sixth fiance) was because of the wonderful relationship he had with animals and people,’ his first wife, the Ladette To Lady etiquette adviser Liz Brewer, tells me.
‘I just knew he would be a fabulous father. My daughter Tallulah has a great deal of John in her.’
Rendall, who had two sons with second wife Melanie, drove Christian around in his Mercedes cabriolet, fed him steak and took him to restaurants and parties.
Christian was returned to the wild in Kenya after Rendall became a dedicated conservationist.
A YouTube video of the lion recognising his old master and bounding up to him for a hug attracted 14 million views.