Damien Hirst is beginning a new career: as a gallery owner in London. The Newport Street Gallery will exhibit his personal art collection, which numbers in the thousands and includes the likes of Bacon and Picasso.
Opening on October 8 with an exhibition of works by British abstract painter John Hoyland, the Newport Street Gallery occupies a substantial part of the street south of the Thames. The brick structure, a formal industrial site, took three years to complete at a cost of 25 million pounds ($38 million). Yet entrance is free of charge.
Is Damien Hirst, whose net worth is estimated at $350 million (310 million euro), a philanthropist? That is not necessarily the most apt description of the 50-year-old real-estate magnate, publisher, art legend and jet-setting erstwhile enfant terrible, now sometimes called a "former superstar."
Although some of his recent exhibitions have been panned by critics, interest in Damien Hirst's own creations is bound to get a boost after the opening of his gallery, where he will show works by other artists from his personal collection.
There are more than enough of them to go around; they number in the thousands and include headline artist colleagues of the 20th and 21st centuries. While cynics call it "the next step in a plan to dominate the art world," others are praising the gallery as a most worthy enterprise.