LONDON—Last month, Charles Saatchi sold yet another significant work from his Young British Artists (YBAs) collection (see ANL, 3/29/05)—Self, by Marc Quinn. The price was £1.5 million ($2.8 million); and the buyer, according to a source familiar with the matter, is Connecticut-based hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen, a private client of the Gagosian Gallery. (The gallery declined to comment). Earlier this year Gagosian sold Damien Hirst’s pickled shark, also to Cohen. Saatchi had been offered $12 million for it.
Quinn’s self portrait sculpture was made in 1991 from eight pints of the artist’s blood, poured into a negative mold of his own head and then frozen. Saatchi bought it that same year for £12,000 ($20,000) when it was first shown at David Grob’s gallery in London through the artist’s dealer Jay Jopling. The work was subsequently shown at the Saatchi Gallery in 1992 and in the “Sensation” exhibition in 1996/97.
Although Self is a unique work, Quinn has made one similar blood self-portrait every five years since. Self, 1996, is in the collection of Howard Rachofsky in Dallas; and Self, 2001, belongs to Korean collector Ci Kim. Before the Saatchi sale, it was estimated that Self, 2006, would cost the buyer £500,000 ($950,000).
The highest price to date at auction for one of Quinn’s works is $102,000, realized at Phillips de Pury New York in 2004 for a marble sculpture in an edition of three. The nearest equivalent work at auction was The Origin of Species, a refrigerated head made from coconut milk in an edition of three that was sold at Christie’s London in 1998 for £37,800 ($60,000) to dealer Helly Nahmad.