Damien Hirst Is Still the UK’s Richest Artist

Artnet News, Kate Brown, 18.05.2020: “Damien Hirst Is Still the UK’s Richest Artist—With a Net Worth of $384 Million, According to the Sunday Times’s ‘Rich List’”

Anish Kapoor is on the list too, along with a number of art collectors.

The Sunday Times released its annual “Rich List” this weekend, an equally loved and hated pecking order of the wealthiest thousand people in the UK.

When it comes to the art world’s presence on the list, only two UK artists make rank: Damien Hirst and Anish Kapoor, who are still holding their places since last year. And while overall the riches have slumped for Britain’s 1 percent, plenty of art collectors still make the cut. The Russian-born, UK-based art collector Roman Abramovich moved down a few slots from ninth on the list to 12, apparently losing some £1.07 billion ($1.3 billion) in assets. And mega-collector Charles Saatchi lost around £15 million ($18.29 million) in the past year, consequently sliding back from 830th place to 915th.

The news that many of the billionaires’ riches have dwindled in the past year as the UK economy continues to waver in the face of Brexit and the pandemic was met with grumbles on Twitter. The headline, “Britain’s Wealthiest Lose Billions to Coronavirus,” did not win much favor on social media: “Does anyone apart from me find the Sunday Times rich list bordering on the obscene at a time like this?” wrote one Twitter user.

In June, Hirst is set to open a major exhibition at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, which has been two years in the making and is still set to go ahead. Hirst, who once bragged about making “double lottery rollover weekends” of £40 million in a week, did not make any more money this year than he did last year, coming in at a comfy £315 million ($384 million).

However, other prominent UK collectors have apparently managed to grow their wealth over these turbulent times. Leonard Blavatnik, who has donated millions to Tate Modern and the Victoria & Albert Museum, leads the art world herd at number four again, with an estimated net worth of £15.8 billion ($19.2 billion), up £1.4 billion ($1.7 billion).

Meanwhile, Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, and his family—who have a collection of enviable masterpieces by the likes of Diego Velázquez and Rembrandt—have added to their wealth. The family, which is worth £10.3 billion ($12.56 billion), grew their assets by a rather staggering £195 million in the past year. And Victoria Beckham, a recent champion of female Old Masters, and her husband David Beckham gained £15 million (18.3 million), giving them a total of £370 million ($451 million) in wealth and spot 354, up from 372 in 2019.

Poju and Anita Zabludowicz, who own the Zabludowicz Collection in London, have kept their books balanced this year. They are tied at 95th place with a cool £1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in wealth. And renowned art collector Janet de Botton, known for collecting works by Carl Andre, Gilbert & George, Cindy Sherman, Roni Horn, and other artists, slid back a few spots from 606th on the list to 610th, despite a wealth of £200 million ($244 million).

Other art-affiliated figures from royal stock include Charles Gordon-Lennox, Duke of Richmond, an art collector whose wealth went up £2 million ($2.44 million) million to £228 million ($278 million) and the Marquess of Bute, who moved up to 774th place from 825th last year, with a total wealth of £158 million ($193 million).