By: Sebastien Raybaud
August 15, 2022 | Mon | 18:12
In the art world, movers and shakers are constantly pushing to set a new trend. In recent years, dismantling a work of art can increase its value.
In 2020, American art collective MSCHF cut 88 spots from a Damien Hirst print and sold them for US$480 each. The remaining canvas – a piece of white paper with 88 holes – sold at online auction for just over US$260,000. The initial cost of printing was around US$30,000.
Throughout August 2022, the Open art surgeons (a group of unknown identity) are doing a similar project with another work by Hirst, one of the world’s most cherished living artists. Bought for nearly 28,000 US dollars, the work was dissected into 90 smaller versions and sold online for a fraction of the original price.
Original painting of Hirst’s skull
The British painter’s work has been dissected into 90 smaller skulls
How did this startup project start?
The value talked to a Open Art Surgeon member for more information.
In 2009, Hirst created this skull painting during a live event – the opening of an exhibition of a wide range of works by the British artist at a venue in Ukraine.
Collectively, this group wants to tackle the high cost of ownership of original art by the most successful contemporary artists. The anonymous representative added that allowing many different people to own their own individual work of art was one way to achieve this goal.
Another driving factor for this project was to challenge the art world. “In the same way that the Banksy that apparently shredded itself has gone up in value enormously, we believe that these little skulls will later be valued at far more than their purchase price,” the member said.
The 90 carved skulls are resold between 300 and 900 dollars approximately
Banksy’s self-destructing artwork, girl with balloon (later Love is in the trash), stunned the art world | Sotheby’s London, 2018 | Sold: £18.5 million
And where does the number of skulls come from?
“The reason there are 90 skulls is simply that that’s the number we can physically cut from this original artwork size. We could have doubled them in size and only had 45 available, but the price per skull would have doubled. We prefer to make them as affordable as possible,” the rep added.
Each skull will be a scaled down version of the original. These will be approximately 50 millimeters high and will be mounted on a worktop. Upon receipt, each skull will be randomly assigned to the purchaser. They can also be optionally framed and ready to hang.
Certificate of Authenticity showing that a smaller skull is from the original Hirst painting
Each of the skulls can optionally be framed upon purchase
Available for purchase online, buyers can own one to three skulls at a time, ranging from $326 to $927. The goal is around 8,000 US dollars, which will be reinvested in other works of art which will be split to be sold in the same way.
Currently around US$2,500 has been raised and will be available for auction until August 30.
In 2020, MSCHF cut out all 88 spots from Hirst’s print and resold each work
Hirst’s dotted illustration originally looked like this
The blank canvas with 88 holes was eventually sold for $261,400 dollars
Since its launch in 2016, MSCHF has produced many viral projects.
In 2019, the group’s project was the Nike Air Max 97 Jesus shoes, an all-white sneaker filled with holy water from the Jordan River in the Middle East. The shoes sold out within 15 minutes of release, despite each sneaker costing US$1,450.
Then, in 2020, MSCHF purchased Hirst’s signature one-time print for US$30,484. With all 88 spots extracted, each earned US$480 and sold out quickly. Measuring 118 by 86 centimeters, the blank canvas with the stains removed was offered at an online auction. Alongside Hirst’s signature, the letters MSCHF can also be seen on the canvas, signed by the creative team.
Jesus shoes is filled with holy water in their only area
Hirst consistently produces thought-provoking artwork, like this cow and calf sculpture (left)
Hirst’s works have often sparked much controversy, continually challenging contemporary belief systems. Not only did he use materials such as sharks, dead sheep, and human skulls in his works, but he also created fake sunken treasures and claimed they had been in the ocean for 2,000 years.
Like the British artist, the Open art surgeons want to continue to defy the norm.
“We’re excited to see if we can bring the worlds of crowdfunding and art collecting together with this project. It’s not something that’s been done before.”
Going forward, the representative added that the plan is to launch a new “fractional art ownership” project in this way two or three times a year. For the next project, another original Hirst is already in the planning stage.