Damien Hirst - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Damien Hirst’s Gold Cat from Egypt was created for the artist’s monumental exhibition Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable at Palazzo Grassi and Punta Della Dogana during the 2017 Venice Biennale. The widely discussed exhibition was a triumph for its unprecedented immersive concept, a fiction devised by Hirst revolving around an invented 2008 discovery of a colossal maritime wreckage off the coast of East Africa. Hirst’s ambitious project asked viewers to suspend their disbelief, immersing themselves in the Wreck of the Unbelievable. To accomplish this, Hirst created a lavish trove, claiming the works had belonged to a freed slave living at the time of the Roman Empire and had been lost with the sinking of the colossal ship, Apistos. Apistos, translated to “unbelievable” from Hirst’s “Koine Greek” lends to the exhibition’s cheeky title.

    Staying faithful to the exhibition’s premise, Hirst also created a “medieval copy of an ancient manuscript,” described as “the most reliable extant account of Apistos” attributed to a sailor named Lucius Longinus. Gold Cat From Egypt is a page from this “medieval copy,” highlighting the cat as an Ancient Egyptian symbol of divine strength, fertility and justice. Opulently rendered in genuine vellum and gold leaf, the materials of present work maintain truthful to the medieval premise. Gold Cat from Egypt is presented as one of the only documents recording the existence of the long-lost treasure of the Apistos, seeing Hirst mythologize the record itself as an indirect remembrance of the submerged treasure.

    Positioning himself as the benefactor who supported the recovery of these objects–in the “documentary” produced in association with the series, a ‘scientist’ offhandedly describes his familiarity with Hirst as “the shark guy”–Hirst positions his role as an artist at a remove from the work. Fanciful and unexpected, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable sees Hirst continue his longstanding exploration of life, loss, longevity, preservation, and memory in yet another innovative form.



    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Venice, Palazzo Grassi, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable. Damian Hirst, April 9–December 3, 2017, pp. 287, 331 (illustrated)

    • Artist Biography

      Damien Hirst

      British • 1965

      There is no other contemporary artist as maverick to the art market as Damien Hirst. Foremost among the Young British Artists (YBAs), a group of provocative artists who graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London in the late 1980s, Hirst ascended to stardom by making objects that shocked and appalled, and that possessed conceptual depth in both profound and prankish ways.

      Regarded as Britain's most notorious living artist, Hirst has studded human skulls in diamonds and submerged sharks, sheep and other dead animals in custom vitrines of formaldehyde. In tandem with Cheyenne Westphal, now Chairman of Phillips, Hirst controversially staged an entire exhibition directly for auction with 2008's "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever," which collectively totalled £111 million ($198 million).

      Hirst remains genre-defying and creates everything from sculpture, prints, works on paper and paintings to installation and objects. Another of his most celebrated series, the 'Pill Cabinets' present rows of intricate pills, cast individually in metal, plaster and resin, in sterilized glass and steel containers; Phillips New York showed the largest of these pieces ever exhibited in the United States, The Void, 2000, in May 2017.

      View More Works


Gold Cat From Egypt

signed "Damien Hirst" on the reverse
pencil, pastel, ink and gold leaf on vellum laid on board
27 1/2 x 20 3/8 in. (69.9 x 51.8 cm)
Executed in 2014.

Full Cataloguing

$25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for $27,720

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 November 2022