Certificate of authenticity for “Bombay Mix” (via telegraph.co.uk).

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.

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...

15 replies on “Damien Hirst Seeks Destruction of Early Spot Painting”

  1. I am on the side of the artist with this one. DESTROY this crappy piece of whatever!

  2. Hirst should buy the piece from Jess Simpson. Pay the price, then shut up and go away, Damien. My Lord, what a con job this guy is from day one.

    1. Considering this guy put together one of the most famous art shows in recent history (Freeze in 1988, while he was still only in his second year of school at Goldsmiths), was part of one of the last historically named groups (YBA), and has amassed a fortune through making art with only a BA and his brain; I would call him a genius. You do not understand contracts, conceptual art, or business. This is why he succeeds and most don’t.
      I would not heed your advice.

      1. Actually, Lowebrau, I do understand contracts, conceptual art, business and the work of Damien Hirst. I still think he should buy the work back from her, and not make a mess of what you so thoroughly worship. Call him a genius, I call you a tool. I’m not offering you advice.

        1. You can’t claim to understand contracts or conceptual art if you think he should buy the work back. That goes against the legal purpose of the contract and the conceptual intent of the work.
          Plus this person is trying to make money off of a work she has no claim to own.
          You call me names, I call you uneducated.

          1. are you saying she doesn’t own it? it might not be worth as much as hirst says it is (with the certificate) but she can probably get something fat with the work w/out the certificate. hirst essentially claims that it in fact his. contracts are made to be broken, restructured or discarded and often are. while i agree there is something quite interesting about these certificates (more interesting with the works of andre, flavin, judd), this is clearly a one-off piece. the certificate is an add on here to the work, a kind of ticket to ride, but any art collector will not pay it much attention; sotheby’s didn’t want to get involved because they’ve been sleeping with hirst for years. why are you carrying damien’s water?

          1. You really don’t understand the controversy here: Hirst demanded it be returned or destroyed. I didn’t say he had to buy it back. I said if he did pay her for it (or even exchange it for something else – that’s what I would do) it would solve the problem. But Hirst, you don’t understand, does not want to solve this, he wants to play it. Please pay attention.

  3. Succinct statement on Art History News Website:
    I have had modest experience of contract law and I was struck by the wording in the “certificate”. I would have thought that, at best, this creates a contract between Hirst and Jamie Ritblat but cannot bind any future owner of the house. Possibly Hirst might want to sue Ritblat for breach of contract but I fail to see what right he has against the Simpsons. Nor do I see how he can assert that an original painting which is acknowledged to be by him is not by him unless accompanied by the certificate.

  4. No, the holder of the magic flute is the rightful owner of all Damien Hirst spot paintings. And that man is the Price of Wales.

  5. Paint your own “Damien Hirst”…Hyperallergic has published the official formula in the form of this certificate. So why not produce, for instance, an original JD Jarvis following the Hirst formula. Unless Hirst has a patient on “the dot.” Everyone owns the dot, but don’t you think it matters who owns the wall it was painted on? I’m with Carlos…anything that relieves the world of a piece from the Hirst art franchise is a good thing.

    P.S. Has anyone authenticated the certificate of authenticity.? Why is it in Hirst’s possession and not part of the original owners portfolio?

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