Fertitta brothers pull plug on Vegas nightclub boasting works by Damien Hirst

Fertitta brothers pull plug on Vegas nightclub boasting works by Damien Hirst
Damien Hirst, 'Demon With Bowl', detail, 2014. From 'Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.' Courtesy Flickr Commons.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…but that won’t be the case for the nightclub boasting millions worth of works by English artist Damien Hirst. Having only opened about eight months ago, KAOS, the Palms hotel and casino’s nightclub, abruptly closed last week sacrificing around $28 million in closing costs and cancelled events. It seems, though, that the Hirst works, including formaldehyde-soaked sharks will remain at the resort.

The Palms made headlines when it was announced that it would be bringing a number of works by Hirst to the hotel and casino just off the Vegas strip. Among some of the most notable works included were Hirst’s 2014 Demon With Bowl and 2015 Warrior and the Bear. Both sculptures were large-scale works that featured in the artist’s 2017 exhibition in Venice titled ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,’ which received mixed reviews. Demon With Bowl, which potentially sold for as much as $14 million, was relocated to the casino and placed in the middle of one of its pools.

These works, and others, were part of a $619 million overhaul of the Palms resort and casino by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, the brothers and art collectors who now run Red Rocks Resorts Inc., a Vegas casino company founded by their father. Three years ago, the brothers bought the hotel for $313 million in the hopes that it would offer the City of Sin something just different enough to attract the crowds.

Installation view of ‘Demon With Bowl (Exhibition Enlargement)’, Damien Hirst. Shown is the original resin version of the statue featured in Hirst’s ‘Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ exhibition in Venice. courtesy Flickr Commons.

As part of the renovations, the Fertitta brothers commissioned Hirst to create what was dubbed the ‘Empathy Suite,’ a $200,000 per night suite featuring a number of artworks by Hirst including those formaldehyde-soaked sharks and a medicine cabinet stocked with diamonds. The suite also boasts a private bar that can seat 13, as for what’s on the menu? ‘Medical waste.’ The 9,000-square-foot suite cannot be booked for less than a two-night stay but is always available for a $1 million packaged called ‘KAOS THEORY,’ which gets buyers a three nights and essentially all the Dom Pérignon you could need.

Unfortunately, it seems that Vegas and most of the world haven’t quite gotten to the level the Fertitta brothers were hoping to cater to, yet. Customers to the nightclub just ‘did not have spendable money, we didn’t see the crossover into the casino,’ one of the Ferritta brothers told Bloomberg News. ‘It doesn’t appear that the market has grown enough for [Vegas’] supply [of nightclubs],’ Fertitta continued, justifying their sudden choice to pull the plug on the club. ‘The cost of entertainment is excessively high and we just made the decision to focus where the fish are.’

Although KAOS has been terminated, the artworks by Hirst introduced to the Palms by the Fertitta brothers will stay at the hotel and casino for the foreseeable future. Granted, trying to move a 60-foot-tall bronze sculpture out of a Vegas hotel might be more trouble than it’s worth anyway meaning Demon With Bowl is likely to see a lot more debauchery in the months to come.

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