I love what Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta have done with the Palms. It’s amazing being able to work with them because they are great collectors and totally understand art.  They have allowed me to create a suite in the hotel and design everything and completely fill it with my art.
-Damien Hirst

Nearly a year has passed since the reveal of the reimagined Palms Casino Resort, featuring a trove of blue-chip contemporary art, with Damien Hirst’s The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded) (1999) – a 13-foot Australian tiger shark that’s been segmented in a trio of formaldehyde-filled glass-and-steel tanks – serving as a centerpiece both to the collection and to the property, itself; situated as it is atop the three pillars of white quartz comprising the focal point of the Hirst-designed Unknown Bar, surrounded by eight sets of Hirst’s Stearic Acid spot paintings from his “Pharmaceuticals” series; while other important works by the YBA can be found elsewhere at the resort, at Scotch 80 Prime (Believer (2008), N-Methylhydroxylamine (2007), and Beautiful, Black and White, Good and Bad, Laurel and Hardy, Keystone Cops, The Beatles, David Bailey Made the ‘60s (2007)), across from MR. COCO (Beautiful Artemis Thor Neptune Odin Delusional Sapphic Inspirational Hypnosis Painting (2007)), and in the High Limit Salon (a Sun Disk sculpture from his expansive showing at 2017’s Venice Biennale, “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”).

But lest you forget, in Las Vegas, less is rarely (if ever) more.  So, Palms collaborated with Hirst, once again, who – in conjunction with Bentel & Bentel Architects – created the Empathy Suite*, the jewel in the resort’s crown of six Sky Villas; but whereas the other five Sky Villas range in price from $25,000 - $50,000 per night (placing them among the most expensive suites in the world), the Empathy Suite will run you $100,000 per night, and requires a two-night minimum stay (as well as a $10,000 security deposit, you’ll have to post at check-in).  Of course, Palms is a casino, so the Empathy Suite is available to any qualified million-dollar player who passes the usual vetting.

Spanning 9,000 sq. ft. over two stories, with a pair of master bedrooms (each with a massage room), a salt relaxation room, a gym, a terrace with a cantilevered Jacuzzi, and panoramic views of the famous Las Vegas Strip; the Empathy Suite provides a slew of amenities for those it hosts, including 24-hour butler service, over-the-top welcome amenities, a private behind-the-scenes art tour of the entire property, a car-and-driver, and VIP access to Palms’ premier amenities such as the Pearl Concert Theater and The Studio at Palms (a world-class recording studio), as well as the soon-to-open KAOS Dayclub & Nightclub.  Bonus: Guests even get a $10,000 credit to use at Palms during their stay.

The Damien Hirst-designed Empathy Suite is the pinnacle of luxury, combining museum-worthy art with a truly legendary hospitality experience.
-Jon Gray (General Manager, Palms Casino Resort)

Now, when Damien Hirst designs a suite, he doesn’t just paint some dots on the wall and leave piles of pills lying around.  Uh-uh.  Rather like Madge’s clients’ hands in that dish of Palmolive; you’re gonna be soaking in the sheer Hirst-iness of it all.

First there’s the half-dozen stand-alone works by Hirst, created expressly for the Empathy Suite (which, based on comparable Hirst pieces that have sold at auction, are valued at roughly $10 million), including Winner/Loser (2018), a tank with a pair of bull sharks suspended in formaldehyde that’s been set into the wall between the foyer and the game room; Here for a Good Time, Not a Long Time (2018), a pair of vitrines that hang above the bar, featuring the skeleton of a marlin in one, and a taxidermied marlin in the other; Money (2018), a 12’ x 6’ mirrored installation in the dining room filled with different pills laid-out in rows; The Winner Takes All (2018) another large-format mirrored installation, this one filled with rows and rows of faceted cubic zirconia in various jewel cuts; Vegas (2018), a medicine cabinet stocked with colorful boxes arranged just-so; and Casino Royale (2018), a series of ten panels located throughout the suite, with Hirst’s beloved butterfly motif repeated on monochromatic glass-painted canvases.

But those are just the tip of the Hirst iceberg; as Hirst also designed the ‘Pill’ stools in the bathrooms; the ‘Pill’ wallcovering in the bathrooms, gym, spa, and pantry; the millwork and insides of all the dresser drawers; the ‘Pill’ translucent film covering the luminous columns; an insane amount of inlay work in the marble floors and on the pool deck, including 104 stone butterflies and 17 stone pills; a ‘Spin’ painting transferred onto the felt of the billiard table and stools in the game room; and butterfly-embossed leather walls and butterfly-embroidered leather sofas (not to mention the nearly 80kg of ‘Medical Waste’ in the display-style top of the Hirst-designed bar)!

So, why call it the Empathy Suite?  According to Hirst, the idea is “to feel empathy when you’re in it; empathy with all your friends wherever they are and whether you’re with them or not; and to feel empathy when you’re spending the night with them in the suite, and empathy with the whole world the morning after.”

And lest you think the bell is tolling for Hirst, fear not; because the five-story bronze statue Demon with Bowl (priced at $14 million) – a resin version of which was recreated for his “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” exhibition at the 2017 Venice Biennale, and was then destroyed, after – can be found rising from the pool at KAOS Dayclub & Nightclub, when it opens on Friday, April 05, with a weekend-long celebration featuring performances by Alicia Keyes, Cardi B, Travis Scott, Hozier, J Balvin, G-Easy, and Zac Brown Band, as well as DJ-sets by Skrillex, Marshmello, and Kaskade.

The kids might think it all quite “extra;” but as Liberace once intoned, “Too much of anything is wonderful!”

The Empathy Suite by Damien Hirst
Palms Casino Resort
Click HERE for info

Get into it!

[Editor’s Note: In addition to working with Damien Hirst on the design of the Empathy Suite, Bentel & Bentel Architects also redesigned the Palms’ other five Sky Villas.]

On February 03, 2000, I attended the opening night of Dame Shirley Bassey’s two-week run at MGM Grand, at the conclusion of which Bassey personally invited me to join her backstage [Part 2 of 3]