Damien Hirst’s Demon finds a new home
Hoteliers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta have just acquired Damien Hirst’s Demon With Bowl, a mammoth headless demon encrusted with coral, seaweed and barnacles. The 60-foot bronze sculpture was a centrepiece of Hirst’s “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable” a fantastical exhibition of ‘treasures’ uncovered from an imagined shipwreck lost to the depths of the Indian Ocean. The piece will soon be on display in the brother’s decadent Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, which is currently in the midst of a $690 million renovation!
The Fertittas have already established themselves as passionate collectors of Hirst’s work. Hirst was closely involved in designing the “Unknown bar” which proudly displays one of his tiger sharks preserved in formaldehyde. The Sculpture will join an incredible body of works housed in the museum, including artworks by Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, and KAWS!
The piece heralds from one of the most ambitious and grandiose exhibitions of the twenty-first century. Hosted by the Billionaire François Pinault, Hirst created a fantasy museum which sprawled through two Venetian palaces and, in typical Hirst fashion, accrued adoration and derision in equal measure. Demon with a Bowl was the largest of an enormous collection of sculptures of gold, jade, malachite, bronze, crystal, all styled as lost artefacts from the ancient world.
The illusion was played out with such craft and commitment, it was possible to lose yourself in Hirst’s playground of utter fantasy. The story goes that 2000 years ago a ship named Apistos (or Unbelievable) carrying the treasures amassed by a freed slave, sunk lost to the depths of the Indian ocean. Then, in 2009 a golden monkey was discovered tangled in the nets of local fishermen. With Hirst’s backing, an international team of divers braved the depths to discover a hoard of treasures untold. These riches (including warrior queens, golden sphinxes, stone warriors, a three-headed- Cerberus and a giant Aztec calendar stone) were then placed on display for all to marvel at.
Hirst placed countless clues and tongue-in-cheek hints alluding to the falsity of the entire enterprise. ‘Made in China’ was printed across the back of one of the statues, an ancient sword was inscribed with the words ‘SeaWorld’, Mickey Mouse and Hirst himself were presented alongside Pharaohs and Medusas and a gilded statue of Hathor looked suspiciously like Kate Moss. Yet, the layers of the illusion are incredible, especially the beautiful photographs of the ‘excavation’, and a 90-minute mockumentary to baffle anyone who cares to watch it on Netflix.
The polarising exhibition combined myth, storytelling, humour and creativity in a shocking and entertaining way. It was not only one of the biggest and grandest shows of all time, in one of the grandest venues on earth, it was also an endearing and charming piece of fiction that has the capacity to delight and amuse anyone who was lucky enough to see it. Hirst’s gargantuan Demon will now bestow majesty and humour in equal measure upon the Fertitta’s modern-day Vegas Palace.