Have you ever wondered what it’s like inside Damien Hirst’s head as he creates a piece? Well, today is the day to finally find out. The British contemporary artist, famous for his sensational, and often controversial, works such as his animal carcasses suspended in vats of formaldehyde and glittering diamond-encrusted human skull, unveiled his new Empathy Suite at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
Designed by artist Damien Hirst and the architecture firm Bentel & Bentel, the two-story space features six of Hirst’s original artworks, in addition to 9,000 square feet of Hirst-designed decoration. “You really feel Damien’s design and art through the entire suite,” says Lorenzo Fertitta, the vice chairman and director of Red Rock Resorts. “He created a work of art with the entire floor.”
Representatives declined to say just how much the entire suite cost to build, though Frank Fertitta, Red Rock Resorts’ chairman and chief executive officer, said, “if you look at some of the pieces individually in the suite, there are comps out there that can be pointed to, at least at auction, for what some of that stuff has sold for previously.”
By adding up these said comps, it easily amounts close to $10 million in art alone. One of Hirst’s animals in formaldehyde, which is smaller than the sharks in the hotel suite, recently sold for $4.4 million. A butterfly painting that is slightly smaller than the ones located in the suite, sold for $614,000 at Sotheby’s in London last year.
“I said, ‘How much do you want to do?” Hirst says. “And so we just set off in that general direction—the cushions, chairs, bar top, wallpaper—everything just snowballed in a good way.”
Hirst says the art should radiate but not distract. “I like it when someone goes into a room and says, ‘Wow,” he says. “That’s what you need with art: It needs to be in your face and then disappear.”
Hirst didn’t just toss a bunch of art into the room – he also chose every material, designed all furnishings and worked out every detail down to the carpet and the drapes. More butterfly designs can be found throughout the terrace and in the bathroom. A 13-seat curved bar is filled with medical waste, referencing Hirst’s early Medicine Cabinet series.
There is also a custom pool table covered in a replica of one of the artist’s colorful spin paintings; a movie theater, a private healing salt room, two massage rooms, and a private fitness center.
This beautiful suite, however, might leave quite a dent in your wallet. While it will be given to high rollers who have $1 million or more as a line of credit at the Palms for free, it will cost a whopping $200,000 for those who’d prefer to pay cash for a two-night stay.