Damien Hirst has demanded that an early spot painting be returned to him and destroyed after its current owner sought to sell it, the Daily Telegraph reported. “Bombay Mix” (1988), painted directly on the wallpaper of a house in London, was created for then-homeowner Jamie Ritblat. The house has since changed hands with the piece in situ, and current resident Jess Simpson now wishes to sell the painting, which she had removed from the wall in 2007 and mounted on an aluminum backing board.
But Hirst’s studio-cum-company, Science Ltd., argues that it remains the rightful owner of “Bombay Mix” since it holds the original certificate of authentication — without which the painting is rendered worthless on the market.
“The ownership of a wall painting in the series titled ‘Wall Spots’ always resides with the owner of the ‘Wall Spots’ signed certificate, which accompanies the art work,” a spokesperson for Science Ltd. told the Daily Telegraph. “The certificate certifies ownership. Someone being in possession of the painted wall surface without the certificate does not have any entitlement to the work. The painting should have been painted over when the previous owner traded the wall spot for a work on canvas.”
According to the BBC, Simpson had offered “Bombay Mix” to Sotheby’s and Christie’s but believes the auction houses rejected it because “they don’t want to upset Hirst, Science, or any of their collectors.” She has been arguing with Science Ltd. over ownership of the painting, which currently remains in a London gallery, as early as 2012.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.