Hirst’s doo­dles knock £90,000 off tax bill

Artist’s man­ager donates his food-stained place­mat doo­dles to cut tax bill by £90k un­der state scheme

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Anita Singh ARTS AND EN­TER­TAIN­MENT ED­I­TOR

Damien Hirst’s man­ager has knocked £90,000 from his tax bill af­ter do­nat­ing 73 cof­fee-stained place­mats to the na­tion. The mats fea­ture Hirst’s doo­dled por­traits of Frank Dun­phy, his friend and long-time man­ager, drawn over break­fast meet­ings at the Wolse­ley restau­rant in Pic­cadilly. Now Mr Dun­phy has given them to the na­tion un­der the Govern­ment’s Cul­tural Gifts Scheme, which al­lows donors to re­ceive a tax re­duc­tion in ex­change for their do­na­tions.

WHEN sub­mit­ting a tax re­turn, the pa­per­work usu­ally in­volves in­voices and re­ceipts. For Damien Hirst’s man­ager, it also in­cludes 73 cof­fee-stained place­mats.

The mats fea­ture Hirst’s doo­dled por­traits of Frank Dun­phy, his friend and long-time man­ager, drawn over break­fast meet­ings at the Wolse­ley restau­rant in Pic­cadilly.

By do­nat­ing them to the na­tion un­der the Govern­ment’s Cul­tural Gifts Scheme, Mr Dun­phy has knocked £90,000 from his tax bills.

They are among dozens of “cul­tural treasures” named to­day in a re­port by Arts Coun­cil Eng­land, to­talling nearly £60mil­lion in 2018-19.

Hirst drew the sketches over 8.30am breakfasts, and some of them bear the cof­fee and food stains to prove it.

Some are comic – one is cap­tioned “Frank ‘eggs-el­lent’ Dun­phy” and de­picts the man­ager as a boiled egg – and oth­ers re­fer to ma­jor mile­stones in Hirst’s ca­reer. A picture en­ti­tled Skull Dug­gery [sic] Day re­lates to the sale of the artist’s di­a­mond and platinum-en­crusted skull.

The Arts Coun­cil ex­plained: “All were ex­e­cuted ad vivum [from life] ex­cept two: the 14th por­trait, Frank (From Mem­ory), and the 24th, In His Ab­sence, which was done af­ter Dun­phy left to eat at an­other ta­ble af­ter Hirst ob­jected to his break­fast of kip­pers.”

Hirst knew that the sketches rep­re­sented a canny in­vest­ment, and the re­port notes that he worked “with a place­mat on his knee in or­der to hide his draw­ings from passers-by”.

Sal­vador Dali is also said to have iden­ti­fied restau­rant vis­its as a mon­eysaver: ac­cord­ing to le­gend, he would take large par­ties out for din­ner, write a cheque for the en­tire meal and then sketch some­thing on the back of it, know­ing that the restau­rant owner would never cash it and part with a valu­able work of art.

The Wolse­ley Draw­ings, as they are known, have been al­lo­cated to the Bri­tish Mu­seum. The Cul­tural Gifts Scheme, set up to en­cour­age phi­lan­thropy in the arts, al­lows donors to re­ceive a tax re­duc­tion in ex­change for their do­na­tions.

It runs along­side the Ac­cep­tance in Lieu scheme, which al­lows own­ers of art­works and her­itage to trans­fer them to pub­lic own­er­ship to meet in­her­i­tance tax bills. To­gether, the schemes ac­counted for treasures worth £58.6mil­lion last year.

Muesli for break­fast at the Wolse­ley restau­rant in Pic­cadilly, Lon­don, costs £4.75 and a yo­gurt £7.25. It is the sort of place at which suc­cess­ful Young Bri­tish Artists could af­ford to eat. Damien Hirst had break­fast there at least 73 times with his bril­liant busi­ness man­ager, Frank Dun­phy. On each oc­ca­sion, Hirst drew some­thing on the back of a pa­per place-mat. “Frank eggs-el­lent Dun­phy,” he cap­tioned a draw­ing of the man as a boiled egg on Jan­uary 12 2010, not omit­ting to sign it. These fine art­works have now been ac­cepted by the Bri­tish Mu­seum un­der the Cul­tural Gifts Scheme, in lieu of £90,000 tax from the artist. His­to­ri­ans will be in­ter­ested. Who can com­plain? It’s like draw­ing a picture on the back of a cheque that you sign; only a truly fa­mous artist can ben­e­fit from such a trick.

Damien Hirst, cen­tre, with four of the place­mat doo­dles of his man­ager

Frank Dun­phy, friend and man­ager of Damien Hirst, used the artist’s doo­dles of him to save money on his tax re­turn

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