Check In Kyiv

Artforum reports today that The Art Newspaper reported Tuesday that the Washington Post reported that Ukrainian mogul/collector Viktor Pinchuk is the “fourth stakeholder” in the made-up “sale” of Damien Hirst’s £50 million diamond skull.
What no one reports, though, is that the Post published this claim over a month ago in a feature story by Their Man in Ukraine, John Pancake, about a Pinchuk-backed Hirst “retrospective” in Kyiv. Pancake did not make any characterization of his source, treating it as a passing fact. [The only Pinchuk-related source Pancake’s piece is Pinchuk Art Center director Eckhard Schneider, whose appointment was announced last fall in a press conference where the collector also admitted he was a repeat buyer at Hirst’s landmark Sotheby’s auction.]
I won’t speculate why it took the art world press more than a month to find out about an art story in the Washington Post. As for the reported sale of the skull “to a group of investors” in 2007, though, it would be nice if anyone could report what actually happened: that the “investors” who supposedly bought the Hirst from Hirst, his manager, and his dealer, were Hirst, his manager, and his dealer.
The involvement of an outsider, even as a minority “investor” whose percentage of ownership is then used, venture capital-style, to calculate the valuation of the venture. But with dozens or more transactions, charity auctions, and exhibitions between Pinchuck and Hirst, Pinchuk’s would hardly be considered an arms-length transaction.
And so the skull’s sole conceptual triumph–as a manipulative value distortion field which renders art and pop journalists powerless–continues.
Previously: Damien Hirst skull how-to photos
Also: No way that thing cost $20 million to make