One pickled cow too many: It only Hirst when you laugh


One pickled cow too many: It only Hirst when you laugh

‘I was a monster. The idea now of meeting myself then is a nightmare,’ says straight and sober Damien Hirst

Mick Brown

One day recently, Damien Hirst ( was sitting in the art gallery he owns in London, pondering how he came to own 3,000 works of art and what exactly he should do with them.

“I’ve got an addictive personality,” he said. “I was making money, and I was aware if I wasn’t careful I could be in the casino dumping it all out, so I was trying to pick healthy addictions. And buying art seemed like a good one. I had access to good things, and I’d get offered good things because of who I am.” 

Hirst’s “good things” constitute probably the largest private art collection in Britain, after the Queen’s. In 2015, in an act of considerable munificence, at a cost of £25m, he opened the Newport Street Gallery, where he has since staged and co-curated shows by artists such as Jeff Koons, Gavin Turk, John Hoyland and, at present, John Bellany and Alan Davie...

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