Lambda and Theta Appeal at Hirst Auction

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

Following up this post: Amidst the financial chaos earlier this week, Damien Hirst managed to bring in £111 million for his latest collection at auction. He smashed Sotheby’s previous record for a collection of work by a single artist, held by a Piccasso collection that sold for $20 million in 1993.

I think the desire to own a Hirst piece can be understood through the lens of either a Lambda or Theta worldview. Lambdas seek achievement and uniqueness as their end goal. Hirst’s signature pieces, the animals in formaldehyde, are nothing if not unique, appealing to Lambda sensibilities.

However, it’s interesting to note that 5 of the 223 pieces in the auction did not sell. The reason? They weren’t immediately recognizable as pieces by Damien Hirst (one example: ‘Killing Time,’ a plastic box filled with a desk, office chair, pills and a watch). This suggests that the people buying these pieces were seeking this ‘obviously by Hirst’ quality; they’re using their purchase to fit in and enhance their status among their peers, which is typical Theta behavior.

Whether the purchasers were Lambdas or Thetas, I do wonder if they’ll still feel their purchases were worthwhile in a few months’ time as uncertainty in global financial markets continues.

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