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Hirst butterfly bike the star attraction

Cycling fans with deep pockets will be keeping a close eye on proceedings at Sotheby’s in New York on 1 November when seven Trek bikes used by Lance Armstrong’s bikes during his comeback season this year, including six customised by some of the world’s leading artists, go under the hammer.

And the seventh? Well, you may just have heard of this one… it’s the Time Trial bike that was stolen and subsequently recovered in the Texan’s first race this year, the Tour of California.

But the star of the show is expected to be the Damien Hirst-designed Trek Madone which the Texan rode on the Champs Elysées on the final stage of the Tour de France and which incorporates real butterflies on the frame and rims. Recession or not, Hirst's work regularly commands seven-figure sums at auction and it would be a surprise if this one proved an exception, particularly given its uniqueness.

The bikes, which have been donated by Trek, were initially conceived to raise awareness of Stages, a contemporary art exhibition for the benefit of Armstrong’s cancer charity, Livestrong, which involved more than 20 artists and opened in Paris during the Tour de France. The exhibition is now moving to Deitch Projects in New York from October 31 to November 21, before ending at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair in December.

Meanwhile the bikes themselves are being auctioned to raise money for Livestrong, and besides the Hirst butterfly bike include designs by artists such as Shepard Fairey, Yoshitomo Nara and Mark Newson. In the week prior to the auction, they will be on display to the public at Sotheby’s showroom at 1334 York Avenue in Manhattan in an exhibition called ‘It’s About The Bike’, running from 24 to 31 October from 10am to 5pm.

Riding on top of what are, after all, some pretty serious works of art is bound to have an impact, and Armstrong says “I'm not a gearhead, and my garage is anything but a cycling museum, but I can honestly say that letting go of my bikes has never been harder.”

“From Damien Hirst's masterpiece Tour de France "finale" Trek Madone covered in real butterflies, to the KAWS "Chompers" cycle that I broke my collarbone on in the Vuelta Castilla y León,” he continues, “every ride is a treasured piece of personal history that I'm proud to offer up to benefit Livestrong.
Each of these artists gave their time freely to this cause, and, because of their generosity, all proceeds from the sale of these bikes will go directly to help Livestrong continue to inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”

For those who can’t make the show or the auction in person, you can download a copy of the auction catalogue, which includes some great pictures of the bikes and the background behind the designs, here.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.