Damien Hirst doodles put up for auction

London sale to offer assorted drawings after sketch given to taxi driver as tip sold for £12,000 in April

In the circumstances it was good of Damien Hirst to do the doodle in the first place, given that the three friends were convinced he was Dennis Wise.

Eleven years on and the hurried portraits of Dave, Nick and Mat will this week be put up for auction at a sale which will either bewilder people, or get them hunting through drawers for that elusive bit of paper from the time they got the artist to draw them a picture.

A number of Hirst drawings are being sold at Bloomsbury Auctions' Urban Contemporary sale in London and follows the extraordinary price paid for a Hirst doodle in April. A drawing he did as a tip for a taxi driver whose son wants to be an artist realised £12,000 in April, far more than the £1,500 estimate.

"It was a huge surprise," recalled Bloomsbury's urban art specialist Mary McCarthy. "But then it did have the three most iconic images of a shark, a skull and a butterfly. After the sale we had a huge amount of emails and phone calls from lots of people who thought they had a Hirst doodle, not all of them turned out to be by the artist."

One that did is the Dave, Nick and Mat sketch which came about after three friends thought they saw the then Chelsea footballer Dennis Wise in a Soho bar at 4am. When told they were wrong, it was Hirst, they asked him to prove it – hence the three portraits which, while not flattering, may have been accurate given the time, place and amount of alcohol consumed.

In the auction catalogue the doodle owner Nick writes: "I asked him to prove that he was one of the world's greatest artists by drawing something, yes I know it's crass but when you have been out in Soho all night it seemed a good enough test. He drew each of us peering over the corner of the bar at him.

"We were suitably impressed and pronounced that he was Damien Hirst not the bad tempered Chelsea footballer to which he wrote 'yes!' at the bottom of the sketch."

The drawing is small, on a bit of paper less than 10cm, and has an estimate of £600-800, lower than other Hirst doodles. "But you know, they had been out drinking so it was in a pocket. Its condition is not mint," said McCarthy. "It is quite a rare thing though. Damien Hirst is not known for his portraits.,"

There are a number of Hirst doodles including drawings he did for a man called Don, a doorman at a well known restaurant near Sotheby's in London.

It was during Hirst's 2008 Beautiful Inside My Head Forever mega sale of his art that the artist made three original drawings with his ballpoint pen.

The catalogues are valued at £1,500-2,000 and all the sale proceeds are going to an educational games for young people charity, EGAR.

Also in the sale is a drawing on a restaurant ordering slip, presumably done for a waiter in 1996, inscribed with some Hirstian 'wisdom' — "The only interesting people are the people who say fuck off this is what I think," valued at £1,000-1,500.

Even a simple black felt-tipped pen heart with the words for Kai on lined notepaper has been estimated at £1,000-1,500. The sale takes part on Thursday.


Mark Brown, arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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