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Arts

Art superstar Damien Hirst opens London gallery

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.

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