Damien Hirst sketch aids ‘best sale’ despite break-in

David Sumner of Otter Auction Rooms with a Damien Hirst sketch which is due to go under the hammer. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref sho 2511-02-14AW David Sumner of Otter Auction Rooms with a Damien Hirst sketch which is due to go under the hammer. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref sho 2511-02-14AW

Sunday, January 26, 2014
12:30 PM

An impromptu sketch by a world-renowned artist was up for auction in Ottery St Mary last week - and fetched more than five times its estimated price.

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David Sumner of Otter Auction Rooms with a Damien Hirst sketch which is due to go under the hammer. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref sho 2507-02-14AWDavid Sumner of Otter Auction Rooms with a Damien Hirst sketch which is due to go under the hammer. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref sho 2507-02-14AW

The doodle by conceptual artist Damien Hirst went under the hammer at Ottery Auction Rooms on Thursday and was bought by a West Country-based collector for £2,700.

The sale came just days after the building was targeted by burglars who stole more than 100 gold and silver items due to be sold during Thursday’s auction.

Auction house owner David Sumner said although the break-in had been ‘absolutely horrible’, he was pleased to bounce back with their most successful sale to date.

“The lot took much longer than usual,” said David. “We took bids from people at the auction, over the phone and online.

“I can sell something for £500 in 20 seconds but the sketch took 10 minutes – there was a lot of back-and-forth between bidders.

“The lady who bought it saw the sketch on the news and liked it, she didn’t need to view it in person. It was definitely one of the most exciting lots we’ve sold.”

Hirst penned the sketch as a gift to a housekeeper at Chanters Lodge, where he stayed during the Tar Barrels in 2001.

It attracted national media interest and was initially estimated to be worth between £300 and £500.

The successful action was marred by the break-in on Tuesday night, but David said he was determined not to dwell on it.

He added: “We’re just a little family business, not a huge national sales room, so this sort of thing has a massive impact on us.

“But everyone has been really supportive; everyone who has heard about it in town has been great.

“It was absolutely horrible, but we came back with a vengeance and went on to have the best sale we’ve ever had – we weren’t going to let it beat us.”

Anyone with information on the burglary, which happened overnight between Tuesday, January 14, and Wednesday, January 15, is asked to contact police on 101 and quote crime reference KO/14/32.

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