Damien Hirst's latest piece-- "For the Love of God"-- sold last Thursday for 100 million dollars (75 million euros), a record price for work sold by a living artist. A spokeswoman for the White Cube gallery in London, where the piece had been on display, stated that the diamond-encrusted skull was sold to a group of anonymous investors. The skull has been hammered in the press and by onlookers for being nothing more than a form of 'bling'-- an overly expensive item that is nothing more than an indication of wealth.
Hirst remains best known for earlier conceptual works in which creatures including a shark and a cow were preserved in formaldehyde within glass tanks. Critics have stated that the British artist would not have a career had a "corpse not been involved"-- a statement referring to Hirst's earlier work, statements he has made to the press, and his most recent venture. Nevertheless, Hirst has earned a large following of supporters throughout his career regardless of the controversy that surrounds him.
The controversy over Hirst's art is not the only media bombardment that the artist has had to deal with. He once made the grave error of stating that the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States were like a work of art. On September 10, 2002, on the eve of the first anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, Hirst said in an interview with BBC News Online:
"The thing about 9/11 is that it's kind of like an artwork in its own right ... Of course, it's visually stunning and you've got to hand it to them on some level because they've achieved something which nobody would have ever have thought possible - especially to a country as big as America. So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing."
Due to public outrage, Hirst issued the following statement:
"I apologise unreservedly for any upset I have caused, particularly to the families of the victims of the events on that terrible day."
'Bling' or not-- the skull sold. What do you think? Does Hirst profit off of death and suffering? Does it matter if he does? Do you think there was a sense of passion behind the creation of "For the Love of God"? Or do you assume that the piece was nothing more than an example of a man showing off his wealth? Discuss.