Frank Dunphy, the business brain behind Damien Hirst and several other successful YBAs, died on Sunday. He was 82.
A voluble Irishman known for his pinstriped suits and bowties, Dunphy began working as Damien Hirst’s business manager in 1995 and played no small part in the artist’s rapid rise to financial success as an art world enfant terrible.
At the height of Hirst’s fame, Dunphy renegotiated arrangements with dealers, often securing between a 70 to 90 percent cut of gallery sales for his client—far exceeding the typical 50-50 artist-gallery split. Other times, he encouraged Hirst to circumvent the gallery system altogether, helping to strike deals with auction houses to sell the artist’s new work directly to collectors.
On the eve of the 2008 recession, he convinced Hirst to put up 223 works for sale at Sotheby’s, bypassing the artists’ galleries, White Cube and Gagosian. The sale raked in $148 million—an