When it opened in 2017, conceptual artist Damien Hirst’s Venice exhibition, “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” revealed the product of roughly a decade of work: an inconceivably expensive (costing an estimated £50 to £100 million to produce, per Artnet), massive array of sculptures styled as treasures salvaged from an invented shipwreck. Like much of Hirst's work, “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable” was greeted with polarized critical reception: The Evening Standard called it a “triumph,” while The Telegraph was less generous, referring to the exhibition as a “spectacular bloated folly.”
Well, it appears that at least two collectors found the show compelling. Hoteliers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, two of the exhibition’s original investors, according to the same Artnet story, have acquired Demon With Bowl (Exhibition Enlargement), a 60-foot-tall bronze sculpture of, you guessed it, a demon—headless—holding a bowl, encrusted with barnacles and sprouts of corals. The duo reportedly plan to display the sculpture at a new pool under construction at their Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, where the demon joins other Hirst inventions: There’s already a member of his extensive shiver of tiger sharks preserved in formaldehyde, the focal point of the hotel’s Hirst-themed “Unknown” bar.
A representative for the hotel declined to share the price with Art News, but the outlet reported the asking price for the sculpture was a very cool $14 million. They did, however, note that it’s not actually the same sculpture that showed in Venice—that one was a resin cast of this bronze sculpture, which would have reportedly been too heavy for and too tough to ship to the exhibition venue in Italy.
The Fertittas, of course, are not the only hotel moguls to set their sights on Damien Hirst pieces as signifiers of their art-world credibility (as Architectural Digest put it, to “flag to guests that they are staying at a high-end, design-savvy insider property”); Miami Beach’s Faena Hotel features an extremely un-self-aware gilt woolly mammoth, and the Gramercy Park Hotel acquired a handful of circa-2007 Hirst works, for example.
Honestly, it’s fitting that a piece from an astronomically expensive exhibition in Venice is passing from one billionaire—François Pinault, who hosted the original “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable” show—to another. It’s even more appropriate to see a fake sunken treasure returning to its natural habitat: a man-made body of water.