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Costliest Work of Art
Posted by TK on 3/6/2008 9:24:21 AM (ET)
Filed Under: General
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Damien Hirst’s art continues to grab attention with the sale of a life-size human skull entitled “For the Love of God”. It is cast in platinum and encased entirely in 8,601 diamonds and was recently sold to a private investment group for $100 million. This record makes it both the highest selling work of art by a living artist and the most expensive work of art ever created, costing approximately $20 million. The 50-carat diamond in the center of the forehead cost in the region of $4 million.

It is certainly the biggest single undertaking by a jeweller since the Crown jewels. Hirst, 40, who was recently ranked as the most powerful individual in the contemporary art world by Art Review magazine and is reputedly worth in the region of £100m, is said to have financed the project himslef.

Why is he doing it? Hirst says, “I've always adhered to the principle that the simplest ideas are the best, and this will be the ultimate two fingers up to death. I want people to see it and be astounded. I want them to gasp.” But what if public reaction thinks it is more bling than breathtaking? “If it's vulgar, I'll put it on a chain and hang it round my neck - or I'll stick it on the mantelpiece.”

“I just want to celebrate life by saying to hell with death,” Hirst said, “What better way of saying that than by taking the ultimate symbol of death and covering it in the ultimate symbol of luxury, desire and decadence? The only part of the original skull that will remain will be the teeth. You need that grotesque element for it to work as a piece of art. God is in the details and all that.”

Hirst will oversee a global tour, which brings the security question to mind. “The demands of the insurance company will dictate the level of security”, said Hirst's business adviser, Frank Dunphy. “But with a unique project like this you're talking about the kind of security more synonymous with an international airport than an art gallery.”

Hirst’s auction record of $19.1 million - the highest for a living artist at auction - was set in June at Sotheby's, when a telephone bidder bought a pill cabinet entitled “Lullaby Spring”.

British artist Damien Hirst's latest work of art has sold for $100 million to an unnamed investment group and Hirst will reportedly get paid in cash.
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