Art Business

Damien Hirst placemat drawings donated to British Museum

More than 70 portraits by Damien Hirst – drawn on placemats at the breakfast table – have been given to the British Museum . The drawings, some smeared with food and coffee stains, will be displayed at the museum, famous for treasures such as the Elgin marbles and the Rosetta Stone. Hirst created the images of his then business manager, Frank Dunphy, the man who turned the controversial artist “into a global superstar”, while the pair had breakfast at The Wolseley, an upmarket restaurant in Mayfair in central London. The 73 portraits, drawn during their meetings over six years until 2010, are a glimpse into a business relationship that helped transform the contemporary art world. Hirst, whose controversial creations include a pickled shark and diamond-encrusted skull, would hand over his drawings to Dunphy at the end of their meal. Dunphy has donated the works under the Cultural Gifts Scheme – set up to encourage philanthropy in the arts – in which donors receive a tax reduction in exchange for their donations. The British Museum’s curator of prints and drawings, Hugo Chapman, said: “Damien Hirst raised money-making and commercialisation of his art to a new level and his relationship with […]

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