EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: £300m Damien Hirst claimed £1.3m in Covid furlough payments despite his business making £18.2m during the pandemic
As the world’s richest artist, Damien Hirst gives his pet dogs seats on private jets, gives his girlfriend designer gear and even installed a stripper pole at his £36 million London pad.
None of that, however, deterred him from turning to the hard-pressed taxpayer during the pandemic.
I can reveal that Hirst, whose fortune is estimated at almost £300 million, claimed more than £1.3 million in furlough payments from the Government.
RICHARD EDEN: I can reveal that Hirst, whose fortune is estimated at almost £300 million, claimed more than £1.3 million in furlough payments from the Government
Buried away in newly filed accounts for his company, Science (UK) Ltd, is the disclosure that he claimed £1.31 million from the Covid job retention scheme.
Referring to the figure, the accounts state: ‘Government grants receivable are in relation to furlough claims.’
The artist, 56, famed for preserving dead animals in formaldehyde, made the claim even though his business made £18.2 million during the pandemic.
The accounts reveal that turnover rose by £7 million from £11.2 million in the first months of the crisis.
The figures for 2020 show the company made a pre-tax profit of almost £3.5 million.
Hirst lives with his girlfriend Sophie Cannell, 28 years his junior, and their three French bulldogs, Pablo, Chapo and Blanco, at his 14-bedroom home in Regent’s Park.
His company makes art which is then sold on to his offshore parent company, Science Ltd, based in Jersey.
As the world’s richest artist, Damien Hirst gives his pet dogs seats on private jets, gives his girlfriend designer gear and even installed a stripper pole at his £36 million London pad. Pictured: A visitor to the Brooklyn Museum of Art looks at Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, part of the Sensation exhibit in New York, 1999
Damien Hirst’s Art work appears at the Saatchi Gallery Opening in County Hall on April 16, 2003 in London
The Turner Prize-winner employs a factory of assistants to help with the creation of his mass-produced works, and is candid in saying that he sees his art as ‘a brand produced in a factory’.
A note in the accounts for Science (UK) says: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has created significant operational and financial pressures on the group and the art market more generally.’
Last year, it was reported that the company was given a £15 million business interruption loan from the Government’s emergency Covid-19 funds.
The former enfant terrible of British art created a platinum skull encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamonds and sold it for an astonishing £50 million. However, in January I reported that the work, called For The Love Of God, was never properly sold.
When the Duchess of Cambridge stopped by the set of Downton Abbey, Michelle Dockery observed that she smelled ‘like roses’.
But I hear the actress, who plays Lady Mary, was unlikely to be too fragrant herself, for Dockery, 40, says her frocks gave off an odour.
‘Some of these original costumes have been worn by several actors,’ she wails. ‘By the end of the day they hum. And it’s not your smell, it’s somebody else’s. It’s weird.’
Nigella admits to ‘bonkers’ wordplay
Domestic goddess Nigella Lawson caused a sensation when she pronounced microwave as ‘meecro-wah-vay’. Yet that’s just the start of her wordplay.
‘All families have nonsense words,’ declares the TV chef. ‘I use “desecrated coconut” [instead of desiccated] and if I get a new appliance I have to read “the destructions”. If I’m on my way I will say: “I’m en croute”.’
Nigella, 62, is so used to saying made-up phrases at home that she isn’t aware of when she’s doing it on screen. ‘You can end up speaking in a language that’s bonkers,’ she admits.
Domestic goddess Nigella Lawson caused a sensation when she pronounced microwave as ‘meecro-wah-vay’. Yet that’s just the start of her wordplay
Sir Mark Rylance says he agreed to be knighted only so his eccentric views wouldn’t be dismissed so readily. ‘I struggled about accepting the knighthood, but I took it as I’m interested in “fringe” things like crop circles and [whether Shakespeare wrote his plays],’ the actor, 62, tells Saga. ‘It feels useful if I am writing about BP or ecology to sign it “Sir Mark Rylance”. They can’t write me off then.’
Oscar hopeful Jessie’s risky ride…
Road-safety aficionados will note Oscar hopeful Jessie Buckley was minus a helmet, wearing earbuds and riding through red lights when out for a ride in London
She may have been nominated for an Oscar, but Jessie Buckley clearly doesn’t consider herself too posh to push the pedals on a bicycle quite yet.
The star, 32, who’s up for a Best Supporting Actress prize for her performance in The Lost Daughter, hired a bike to whiz around London.
But road-safety aficionados will note that she is minus a helmet, wearing earbuds and riding through red lights — behaviour you certainly won’t find recommended in cycling proficiency test manuals.
Buckley opted for style over safety, donning a blue beanie hat, sunglasses and turned-up jeans. She just about managed to squeeze her duffle bag into the basket.
Punchy lesson for oligarch’s boy
DESPITE his extraordinary wealth, Roman Abramovich clearly squashed certain signs of entitlement among his seven children.
A contemporary of his son Arkadiy recalls an incident from their days at Gordonstoun, the Scottish boarding school which fellow old boy Prince Charles called ‘Colditz in kilts’.
‘Arky was an obnoxious blighter but a forceful member of the Junior XV rugby team,’ he says. ‘During one game, a fellow pupil decided he’d had enough of Arky’s constant swearing and loudmouthing in the scrum and whacked him hard. Arky was carted off to the sanatorium, where he was treated for a minor nose fracture.
‘The next day the boy went to apologise to Arky, who said his dad wanted to speak to him. Arky handed the phone to the somewhat nervous boy. But all Roman said to him was, “Thank you for teaching my son a lesson.” That was the end of the conversation.’
MasterChef: The Professionals judge Marcus Wareing has got all in a flap over plans to extend his country home after bats were found in the roof. The Michelin-starred restaurateur, 51, wants to demolish and replace a rotting timber conservatory and add a family snug, reading room and veranda. But a bat survey found four species of bats at the £5 million property in East Sussex. Planners gave the go-ahead, but if bats are found during the works, builders will have to down tools, and they may need a special licence from Natural England.
Masha hits out at expats backing Putin
Model Masha Markova Hanson has attacked fellow expat Russians who have not condemned Vladimir Putin.
Markova Hanson, 36, who became a London society figure after marrying industrialist Lord Hanson’s playboy son Robert in 2010, says those who try to justify Putin’s actions should ‘go back and live in Russia’ and ‘might as well wear the neo-Russian swastika sign on your arm — Z’.
She adds: ‘There is no future for Russia with its current government in power.
‘Supporting it is not patriotism, it is barbarism and an absence of any analytical thinking.’
Model Masha Markova Hanson has attacked fellow expat Russians who have not condemned Vladimir Putin over the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine
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