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On this page: A Dead Shark Isn't Art

Stuckism International Gallery (London) here
300 dpi downloadable press photos of the Stuckist shark here.

See also Damien Hirst Sotheby's Auction 2008

Eddie Saunders caught a shark in 1989 and displayed it in his J.D. Electrical Supplies shop in Shoreditch, London (i.e. two years before Damien Hirst's shark, a.k.a. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living), but Eddie's shark received no wider attention, until it was borrowed for A Dead Shark Isn't Art exhibit in the window of the Stuckism International Gallery, 17 April - 18 July 2003. This exhibit opened the same day as the new Saatchi Gallery at County Hall, a centrepiece of which was the display of Hirst's shark yet again.

The Stuckism gallery made a donation to Eddie Saunders' nominated charity, the Parry Group in Redbridge, which works with the learning-disabled. J.D. Electrical Supplies is now closed. Eddie Saunders runs a new business Ecube, distributing an innovative energy-saving device for industrial refrigeration.

Press The originalPollSpot the differenceSaatchi sellsSale Shop

SHARK FOR ONLY £1,000,000!

A shark displayed two years before Damien Hirst's first shark is on sale for the unmissable bargain price of only £1,000,000, a considerable saving on the £9,500,000 sale price of Hirst's latest version The Kingdom sold at Sotheby's.

Eddie Saunders displayed the shark in his former JD electrical shop, Shoreditch from 1989 - two years before Hirst. In 2003, it was put on display in the Stuckism International Gallery. It is titled A Dead Shark Isn't Art.

Why settle for expensive imitations when you can get the original for less!

Contact Stuckism for further details. Confidentiality assured.
Offer valid till 31.9.08. Terms and conditions apply.


TV London lunchtime news showed the shark being carried from JD Electrical supplies over Great Eastern Street to the Stuckism International Gallery.

The Times 10.4.03. Article on the Stuckist shark. Charles Thomson, director of Stuckism International, was quoted: “If Hirst’s shark is recognised as great art, then how come Eddie’s, which was on exhibition for two years beforehand, isn’t? “Do we perhaps have here an undiscovered artist of genius, who got there first, or is it that a dead shark isn’t art at all? Not only did Eddie catch it himself — unlike Hirst — but it is also in considerably better condition. We can’t see why Hirst’s shark was made so much fuss of when Eddie’s has been in a public London venue all this time. A lot of people admired it in his shop, but I doubt that anyone considered it a work of artistic genius.”

Evening Standard 11.4.03. ES magazine "The real jaws comes to town".

24 Hour Museum 23.4.03. Review of the Stuckist shark display. Text also at Florida Museum of Natural History.

East London Advertiser 24.4.03. "Shark and awe", article and pictures of both sharks.

Jewish Chronicle 25.4.03. "Shark end of debate", page 4. Article and photo of Eddie Saunders and son, Jolan, carrying the shark.

The Daily Telegraph 17.8.03. "Damien Hirst has good ideas. So good that other people keep claiming to have had them first. After Britain's foremost contemporary artist hit the big time with a 14-foot stuffed shark in a tank of formaldehyde it turned out that something astonishingly similar had already been exhibited in a shop window by an electrician called Eddie Saunders from Shoreditch, in the East End of London. ... Robert Hughes, the celebrated art critic, wrote of Hirst's shark - bought by Charles Saatchi for a reported £50,000 - "It might have been fractionally more interesting if he had caught the f****** thing himself instead of hiring a bloke from Queensland to do the job for him." Devotees of the Eddie Saunders school of fish art point out that their man got in his boat and did just that."

The Times 27.6.07. On Damien Hirst and John Lekay, mentions Stuckist shark display.

The New York Sun 10.7.08. Tyler Cowen reviews the book The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson, who compares Eddie Saunders' shark with Damien Hirst's.

Icons 2008. Feature on Stuckists shark and criticism of Hirst's.

The Independent 19.2.09. "Funnily enough, if anyone else tries to sell a shark in chemicals – as the Stuckist movement did last year – it’s not nearly as popular."

issue 7-8, 1.8.08 Article scan here. Art wars issue. Picture of the shark in the Stuckism International Gallery. Magazine site: www.artchronika.ru.


The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson, Aurum Press Ltd 2008. ISBN-10: 1845133021, ISBN-13: 978-1845133023. Excerpt from page 70-71:
"Hirst's shark was not the first. A man named Eddie Saunders displayed a golden hammerhead shark in his JD electrical shop in Shoreditch in 1989, two years before Hirst. In 2003, Saunders' shark was put on display in the Stuckism International Gallery in East London under the title A Dead Shark Isn't Art. Stuckists are an international art movement encompassing forty countries; they are against conceptual art like sharks, and say they are also against the anti-art trend. Saunders emphasized not only had he caught his shark himself, but it was much more handsome than Hirst's. Saunders offered his shark for sale at £1 million, with an ad that said: 'New Year Sale: Shark for only £1,000,000; save £5,000,000 on the Damien Hirst copy.' [see below] He received a great deal of media coverage but no offers."


Head in the Clouds 26.4.04 Sharks compared

Decrepit Old Fool 13.2.05 "Hirst wasn’t the first one to think of displaying a shark"

Feral Strumpet Teatime 20.6.07 "Stuckism’s photos of both works side by side make quite a convincing argument."

Vupoint618 1.8.07 Saunders' shark mentioned.

Biophemera 18.7.08 Jessica Palmer comments on the New York Sun story.

Quiddity 21.7.08 "My stuffed shark is cooler than your stuffed shark"

Coxsoft 24.7.08 "the forerunner ... er ... foreswimmer of Moneybags Hirst's rotting carcass"

#Occupywallstreet 9.10.12 "Of course, not everyone considers Damien Hirst an artist. In 2003, The Stuckism International Gallery exhibited an older preserved shark from an electrical shop window."


The Spitalfields Festival Fringe June 2003. Under "Stuckism International".

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Damien Hirst is well known for his copying of other people's original ideas and claiming them for his own, which can result in out of court settlements, as with the Humbrol anatomical toy reproduced by Hirst in a size exaggerated to Theme Park proportions. Eddie's shark was displayed since 1989 (two years before Hirst's) in his electrical supply shop in Curtain Road, Shoreditch, adjacent to a main through road, Great Eastern Street, and was clearly visible through the window. Shoreditch is renowned for being at that time the haunt of conceptualism and Brit Art. The questions obviously arise:

Did Hirst ever see this shark on display or was he ever told about it before he decided to obtain and display his own shark?

Was this what promptd Damien Hirst's shark?

In the interest of art historical accuracy, we believe the public has a right to know and demand answers.

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Damien Hirst v A Dead Shark Isn't Art on Polls Boutique. Vote here. Results to date here.

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Can you spot the difference between these two dead sharks?

Shark A is currently on display in the Stuckism International Gallery. It was previously displayed by Eddie Saunders in his Shoreditch shop, JD Electrical Supplies.

Shark B is currently on display in the Charles Saatchi Gallery. It was previously displayed by Sir Nicholas Serota in his Pimlico shop, the Tate Gallery.

Shark B: detail of photo by David Prudames © 24 Hour Museum



1) The top shark was caught by Eddie Saunders. The bottom shark wasn't caught by Damien Hirst (he paid someone else to do it for him cos it was too far to travel from the Groucho).

2) Damien Hirst's Shark is swimming backwards

3) One shark has been displayed by someone with what one might call artistic sensibility. The other has been displayed by Damien Hirst.

4) One is the original (1989). The other is by Damien Hirst (1991).

5) Eddie's shark is better looking than the other ugly brute. Damien's shark isn't too handsome either.

6) Eddie's shark has not previously been considered art because it was displayed by a businessman pursuing his hobby. Damien's shark has been considered art because it was displayed by, erm... a businessman pursuing his hobby.

7) Damien's shark has been seen as art as it has been put on display to the public in the unorthodox context of an art space. Eddie's shark has not been seen as art as it has not been put on display to the public in the orthodox context of an art space.

8) Damien's shark is now in an art gallery. Eddie's shark is now in an art gallery. [A different art gallery - Ed.]

9) Basically, let's face it, there isn't much real difference between Eddie's shark and Damien's shark, and giving the latter a poncy title of a line of weak poetry hardly justifies the inflated price tag of £1,000,000. Actually Eddie's is a Hammer Head Shark (yeeha!) while Damien's is a boring old Tiger Shark.

10) Eddie's got a beard and Charles Saatchi hasn't (running out of differences at this point) - he has bearded us all (look it up).


I want to marry Eddie's shark as it is handsome and Damien's isn't.

Damien's shark is rotting in a tank of formaldehyde and Eddie's shark smells of sea breezes.

Eddie's shark has a proper back fin. Damien's looks as though it's got a bit missing.

Eddie's shark is sleek. Damien's is a fat lump. It's just ugly, innit. Appearances are important. Couldn't Damien find a better looking shark?

Why is Damien's in a tank of formaldehyde. Why didn't it just get stuffed (like Eddie's). Then its tail wouldn't have fallen off.

- supplied by Gina Bold



Can you spot the difference between these two sharks?
Shark A is currently on display in some old council offices in South London, funded by an eccentric millionaire.
Shark A: detail of photo by David Prudames © 24 Hour Museum

Shark B by now is probably in some kiddie's bedroom in Little Rock, Arkansas, bought by an over-indulgent parent.
Shark B: by Sean Omeallie from www.arkarts.com

Answers on a postcard to Neophiliacs Anonymous, Saatchi Gallery, County Hall, London.
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A few months later in 2004, it was announced that Charles Saatchi
was selling Damien Hirst's shark.


"He is denying he is dumping it but how can the Saatchi Gallery exhibit Britart when the main exhibit is no longer there? It is like a court without a monarch. People will be asking, 'Where is the shark?'

"Saatchi, because of the power he wields, can make something relatively worthless into something worth a huge amount. It is the not-so-blind leading the blind. When it reaches the top of the market he can sell at a huge profit. It is a self-fulfilling, money-making scheme."

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JD Electrical, 53 Curtain Road, London EC2 (now closed).

Eddie Saunders with the shark he caught and displayed inside his
JD Electrical Supplies shop from 1989.

JD Electrical Supplies Ltd. (now closed). The shark was displayed
inside on the right hand wall

Certificate for catching the shark, dated 1989
Image © Eddie Saunders

Eddie Saunders with the shark when caught by him in 1989
Image © Eddie Saunders

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