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Hirst's money man is old IRA hero's son; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: By ALEX MARNUNCHAK

DAMIEN Hirst is one of the richest artists who ever lived - and it's all thanks to the son of an old IRA War of Independence hero.

Controversial Hirst, worth an estimated pounds 500m, made his fortune from pickled cows and sharks.

But he owes his luck to his Irish financial guru Frank Dunphy.

Last Tuesday Hirst scooped another pounds 140m from the sale of his bizarre stuffed zebras, pickled life-sized sharks in jars and carvings of half-angels and skeletons.

Showbiz accountant Frank from Portrane, Co Dublin, persuaded Damien to by-pass the art galleries - which take 50 per cent of the profits - and sell directly to buyers. No living artist had ever done it before.

But Frank didn't always have a head for finances. His mother, fought in the Easter Rising and with Dan Breen in the War of Independence, grew up handing out leaflets for the IRA He said: "Me and my brother Paddy spent nights and nights folding pamphlets and delivering them door-to-door. I officiated over many an IRA military funeral as an altar boy, the lads firing off the old 303s over the grave, and me swinging the chasuble."

He went to a Christian Brothers School and claims he had their fists to thank for his Irish, Latin, and Maths.

Now 70, he has a staff of 160 and five studios scattered throughout England to manage Hirst's huge assets. They include a pounds 400million private art collection, 50 homes in Mexico and Europe and a British country estate.

He became Hirst's manager after meeting a woman in London's famous Groucho Club. "A woman sits down beside me, we got talking, and she says, 'I hear you're an accountant. Well, my lad needs sorting out'. It was Damien Hirst's mam, God bless her," he said.

But Damien said: "Did it f*** happen like that."

CAPTION(S):

Sacred' - an animal heart with a dagger; Damien poses with 'For The Love Of God; Damien with The Incredible Journey, a zebra in a tank; Wizard.. Damien Hirst with the man who easily doubled his fortune - Frank Dunphy
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2008
Words:349
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