'Crap' Medicine Cabinet May Sell for Millions of Dollars

Damien Hirst's 'peculiar' work of art hits the auction block in February
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2020 10:50 AM CST
$800 Medicine Cabinet May Sell for Millions
Damien Hirst's "Bodies."   (Phillips)

It looks like your average well-stocked medicine cabinet. It's the details, and the expected price, that show it's actually a work of art. Bodies, a doorless medicine cabinet created by British artist Damien Hirst in 1989, is expected to fetch as much as $2.3 million when it hits the auction block in London next month. Bond trader Robert Tibbles is trusting auction house Phillips to sell an entire collection of works from the Young British Artists movement—characterized by "shock tactics" and an "openness to materials," according to Tate—but believes Bodies is the crown jewel. "I lived with that medicine cabinet for seven years with people telling me it was crap," he tells the Art Newspaper. But "there's something very primal about having a product which you associate with something personal like your health, put in a public way like that," he adds, per CNN.

Hirst produced 12 cabinets filled with empty pill bottles and packages, but Bodies was among the first four displayed at a showcase by Goldsmiths College students. "It came straight from Damien's degree show in 1989, and I paid [roughly $782] for it," Tibbles tells CNN, noting Hirst personally installed the work in his apartment. "The more you look at it, the more you see and begin to understand all the little details ... which makes it even more peculiar, idiosyncratic, and enjoyable," adds the 59-year-old collector. Five other works by Hirst—including Antipyrylazo III, a painting of 2,050 colorful dots expected to fetch up to $1.5 million—will be sold along with those of other artists starting Feb. 13. The 30 pieces represent "an unrivaled collection that captures a defining moment in the history of contemporary British art," per Phillips. (Some of Hirst's works may carry a health risk.)

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