Damien Hirst - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, October 13, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "As an artist, the best you can hope for is people arguing, mixed reviews. Love it and hate it. If you get that, then you’re on the right track"
    —Damien Hirst
    A radiant golden and bronze sculpture, Damien Hirst’s Crown in Petrified Honeycomb with Two Daggers features the elaborate interweaving of a Southeast Asian-style crown, a wild honeycomb, and a pair of slender Kris daggers. Seemingly dating from ancient times, the sculpture was in fact part of a major ten-year long project imagined by the British artist that resulted in the 2017 exhibition Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.


    Presented at the prestigious Punta Della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi in Venice, the artworks on display told the imaginary story of a shipwreck concealing the impressive collection of the freed Roman slave Cif Amotan II. Presumably rescued from the depths of the Indian Ocean by Hirst and his team more than two millennia later, the collected treasures made of marble, gold and bronze, crystal, jade, and malachite – occasionally hidden under a thick layer of corals and crustaceans – were combined with documentary videos, drawings, and photographs.


    As detailed in the notice attached to the base of Crown in Petrified Honeycomb with Two Daggers, the precious object is described as referring to a Malaysian folktale of Hitam Manis. The story counts the adventures of ‘a sultan’s son who falls in love with a servant girl.’ Shocked by the news, ‘the sultan stabs the girls, who then metamorphism into a swarm of honeybees. Furthermore, ‘when the son later climbs a tree with a knife to cut down honeycomb, his body return shattered into pieces.’


    Both this sculpture and the Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable greatly echo the themes explored by Damien Hirst throughout his career. The meticulous scenography of the exhibition resonates with his iconic medicine cabinets, demonstrating his particular interest in display and collecting practises. The notions of belief and truth also deeply resonate with the core of Hirst’s preoccupations: by questioning the fundamental social systems we use to interpret reality, he encourages a reflection on mythology, history, and science. The blurred boundaries between fact and fiction as well as past and present significantly challenge our beliefs and moral values.

    • Provenance

      White Cube, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2017

    • Exhibited

      Venice, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Damien Hirst, 9 April - 3 December 2017, pp. 111, 319, n.p. (illustrated)

    • Literature

      Mélanie Goussard, 'Damien Hirst: His Own Worst Enemy', artlimited, 30 September 2021, online
      Damien Hirst, The Undersea Salvage Operation: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Other Criteria, London, 2017, pp. 200-201, 223

    • 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

Property from an Important Private American Collection


Crown in Petrified Honeycomb with Two Daggers

incised with the artist’s signature, stamped with the artist and foundry stamps, inscribed, numbered and dated ‘Dhirst TT63-1 1/3 MMXVI’ on the interior
gold and bronze
53.7 x 35.1 x 27.5 cm (21 1/8 x 13 7/8 x 10 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2016, this work is number 1 from an edition of 3 plus 2 artist's proofs.

Full Cataloguing

£250,000 - 350,000 ‡♠

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey

Specialist, Associate Director, Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
+44 20 7318 4084


20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 13 October 2022