British artist Damien Hirst is the creator of the $12 million stuffed shark and could claim -according to the British press- to be worth 130 million pounds at the age of 42 beating Picasso, Dali and Warhol combined at the same age.
Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol (UK) and grew up in Leeds. His father was a motor mechanic and his mother an amateur artist. He first went to Art School in Leeds and was later accepted by Goldsmiths College in London whose criteria of acceptance did not include drawing and painting.
He was brought to the attention of collector Charles Saatchi by the exhibit Frieze in the Docklands of London of which he was the curator in 1988. In 1991 Saatchi funded the creation of the Physical Impossibilty of Death in the Mind of Someone Living and Hirst was launched.
In 2005 The Physical Impossibility was bought for 12 million dollars by hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.
Later Hirst created another stuffed shark The Wrath of God , a five-foot shark, that sold before the exhibit he was supposed to be in Mexico for $4 million. Apart from stuffed sharks, Hirst produces 6 categories of art works : 1- his tank pieces (dead and dissected creatures), a pickled sheep is said to have sold for 2.1 million pounds ; 2- his cabinet-series where he displays collection of surgical tools or pill bottles in pharmacy medicine cabinets, The Blood Christ medicine cabinet sold for $3 million ; 3- his spot paintings that consist of 50 or more multicolored circles on a white background, generally produced by assistants under his supervision, in 2007 a 76x60 in. spot painting sold for $1.5 million ; 4- his spin paintings painted from a spinning potter's wheel ; 5- his butterfly paintings in two versions : one is made of collages from thousands of dismembered wings, the other has tropical butterflies mounted on painted canvas with monochrome gloss paint : soccerman David Beckham paid £250,000 for one of them ; 6- the last category is a collection of photorealist paintings depicting violent death and was shown at Gagosian gallery in 2004. Each painting is done by several people, Hirst adding some strokes and his signature.
Hirst's London dealer, the White Cube, has sold 400 butterflies and spin paintings aud 600 sport paintings at up to £300,000 each. The butterfly canvas Full of Love sold for £364,000 to London dealer Timothy Taylor. The top of the art of Damien Hirst is a life-size cast of a human skull in platinium encrusted with 8,601 pave-set industrial diamonds with a total weight of 1,100 carats called For The Love of God. IT was offered at £50 million and found a buyer.
No wonder if Hirst is the richest artist alive. You can even buy for only... 60 bucks a T-shirt showing some of his butterflies from the Gagosian gallery. The bargain of the year.