01/07/2013 02:21 pm ET Updated Mar 09, 2013

Damien Hirst's Split From Larry Gagosian Turns Heads In Art World

They seemed the perfect match. On one side, Larry Gagosian, the world's most powerful art dealer, whose eponymous gallery has more exhibition space than Tate Modern, an annual revenue estimated at more than $1bn (£600m) and puts on exhibitions of the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Warhol to rival the greatest museums. On the other, Damien Hirst, the world's most successful living artist, who has amassed a fortune of £215m.

So Hirst's sudden departure after 17 years from Gagosian's blockbuster roster of 77 artists and estates -- months after the gallerist mounted an unprecedented simultaneous exhibition of the artist's spot paintings in every one of his then 11 galleries around the world and co-sponsored a Tate Modern retrospective -- has raised questions about the careers of these titans of the contemporary art world, and about the art market itself.

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