Last Thursday, George Michael’s art collection was sold at auction. The late singer’s collection included work by notable YBA artists such as Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, and the pieces were bought for £11.3 million.
Michael, known for his solo work as well as his tenure in Wham!, passed away on Christmas Day 2016 at the age of 53. He dies of natural causes at his home in Goring-on-Thames.
Michael was a keen art collector while he was alive. He was especially interested in the Young British Arts (YBA) movement, a loose collection of British visual artists that rose to prominence in the late 80’s and 90’s. Following his death, Michael’s collection is being sold to raise money for charities he supported.
Two of the collection’s main pieces, ‘The Incomplete Truth’ and ‘Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain’, were made by controversial artist Damien Hirst. Hirst, one of most notable members of the YBA movement, is known for his sculptures of dead animals encased in formaldehyde. ‘The Incomplete Truth’ features a dove shown in flight while ‘Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain’ features a dead bull representative of the Christian martyr. The two pieces sold for £911,250 and £875,250 respectively.
The first major work Michael bought was Bridget Riley’s 1982 abstract painting ‘Songbird’ which sold for £791,250. Another abstract painting, Tracey Emin’s ‘Hurricane’, sold for £431,250.
Michael also owned three works of art that directly referenced himself. Michael Craig-Martin’s ‘Untitled (SEX)’, ‘Untitled (GOD)’ and ‘Handcuffs’ all make reference to the singer’s 1998 arrest for engaging in a sexual act in a public toilet. The works sold for £125,000, £40,000 and £112,500 respectively. Another Craig-Martin work, an LCD portrait of Michael, sold for £175,000.
The sale of the collection was dealt with by auction house Christies. More information on the auction can be seen on their website.