The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas recently announced they’ll be adding a sculpture to a new pool that is under construction as part of the casino’s ongoing overhaul. We’re not talking playful dolphin fountains, though, we’re talking a 60-foot tall headless demon covered in barnacles and holding…a bowl. The massive sculpture, unsurprisingly titled Demon With Bowl (Exhibition Enlargement), is by conceptual artist Damien Hirst, who is known for making splashes in the art world.
Demon With Bowl featured in Hirst’s 2017 Venice exhibition ‘Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,’ which received polarized reviews. The Guardian gave the show four stars calling the larger-than-life exhibition a ‘spectacular mix of storytelling, invention and humour is art for a post-truth world.’ Others, like The Telegraph found Hirst’s take on a fictional shipwreck of treasures to be a ‘spectacular failure.’
The Venice exhibition was in deed colossal spanning two museums; it took Hirst about a decade to produce and resulted in a production price tag of somewhere between £50 million and £100 million. Like it or not, ‘Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ was impressive. It was enough so to hoteliers Frank and Lorenzo Feritta (who own the Palms and invested in Hirst’s 2017 exhibition) that they purchased Demon With Bowl with their Vegas casino in mind. The price paid for the sculpture has yet to be officially disclosed but ARTnews reported in 2017 that the asking price for the bronze version of the sculpture was around $14 million. This brings us to another important detail: this isn’t the exact sculpture that exhibited in Venice. In the show, the sculpture of the demon was made of resin and was destroyed after the show ended. For the hotel, a bronze version of the statue will be cast lending itself to its new pool home.
The large-scale sculpture isn’t the only Hirst that calls the Palms home. When it is installed, Demon With Bowl will join the resort’s Hirst-designed bar called Unknown, which sports a number of Hirst’s works. Most prominent, though, is a 13-foot tiger shark split into three sections and preserved in steel tanks titled The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded), which sits above the bar. This is all part of a $620 million renovation that the casino has done to revamp its look and provide space for its extensive contemporary art collection. Works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami, KAWS, and Dustin Yellin are only some of the major names that feature in the collection and now around the luxury resort. In a 2018 statement, Palms general manager Jon Gray said: ‘[w]e curated a collection that is bold, relevant to today’s traveler and most of all a truly interactive experience. The newly acquired Hirtst fits the bill as bold and will certainly make for a unique guest experience.’