Art + Design + I Want This

Splurge vs steal!

We’ve already done camera vs camera and trash can vs trash can, so how about we do jewel-encrusted skull vs jewel-encrusted skull?

In 2007, Damien Hirst (who, I should note, is one of my least favorite living artists—for better or for worse, “I know what I like when I see it”…blah blah blah, and yes, I am aware of the many reasons available to dislike Hirst and his work) spent £14 million (~$22 million) creating For the Love of God, a sculpture consisting of “a platinum cast of a human skull encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamonds, including a pear-shaped pink diamond located in the forehead”. It’s an utterly ridiculous and despicable work of art on just about every level imaginable, but I can’t help kind of loving it. And we don’t even know if it’s been sold! Assuming it hasn’t, though, the price tag on it most likely somewhere around £50 million.

Gracious. Well, as Hirst himself puts it, “the markup on paint and canvas is a hell of a lot more than on this diamond piece.” Fair enough, Damien. Fair enough!

I don’t often condone knockoffs, but I’m going to make an exception this time—assuming, of course, that you don’t have £50 million lying around waiting to be spent. (And if you do, please email me before you do anything. I’d be happy to send you a list of suggested ways to spend that money that do not involve buying a diamond-encrusted skull. Be sure to put “Help me spend £50 million” in the subject line!)

Enter the low-cost alternative: For a mere £50 (yes, 1/1,000,000th of the original price!), IARTISTLONDON will sell you their IHIRST kit so you can make your very own Damien Hirst-inspired crystal-encrusted skull! You get a life-sized plastic skull, 8,601 crystals, glue, a paintbrush, silver paint, and instructions. I personally can’t think of a better way to spend every evening for the next year than gluing tiny crystals onto a plastic skull, can you?

Your friends will never know the difference!!

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  • Reply Adam September 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I really want to get one of these to construct over my Christmas break!

  • Reply Brandi September 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I feel horrible for feeling so excited about a knockoff but this is amazing!!!

  • Reply Fiona September 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I was such an idiot, I couldn’t afford Dolce e Gabanna sequinned crystal shoes for my wedding so I did the full swarovski/hirst on a pair of cheap shoes but they were so cheap I abandoned them after an hour on the big day, never to be worn again. A few months later sequinned shoes were everywhere.

  • Reply Krissy September 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    This is kind of hilarious and also really, really awesome at the same time. But it’s sparkley and something to occupy the hands, so 3 thumbs up from me!

  • Reply ellen September 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Where did you even find this???!!! I would say only in America, but obviously that’s not the case.

  • Reply Audrie September 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    This is brilliant! Such a cool alternative hehe Veeeery tempting!

  • Reply Lori E. September 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I would need medicated after a craft like that… 8,601 crystals. That would translate into MAYBE 100 actually ending up on the skull. The rest would be roll under the stove (b/c the crafting/cursing/pulling out hair would happen in the kitchen) or be eaten by our dog. And there is nothing worse than a skull missing bling. Maybe I should just pass and stick with my hobby of ignoring the laundry… I am really good at that.

  • Reply Sherry September 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    This blows those puzzle kits my grandmother used to work on out of the water! I can’t imagine having the patience for this kind of thing but kudos to anyone trying to attempt it. I would end up pulling my hair out trying to get the crystals to line up properly in the eye sockets.

  • Reply querencia September 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I see changes coming to new bedazzler infomercials.. Combining antlers/skulls+bedazzler… 2012 trend predictions.

  • Reply Clare September 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    The website also sells a kit that allows you to make your own Marc Quinn blood-sculpture knockoff. Here is an excellent story one of my art lecturers told me (may be gossip). Charles Saatchi (Mr Nigella Lawson) owns the sculpture. Because it is made of blood, it needs to be kept frozen. So the couple keep it in a deep-freezer at home. They were having renovations done, and the power was cut off for a bit, and the head melted a bit. They had to get Quinn to donate a little more blood and spend some time cleaning up the sculpture.

    No idea if the story is true, but I love it. The same art lecturer assured me friends of Pollock had told her he made an excellent spongecake, but that was all hush-hush so as not to damage his macho cred.

    • Ella September 14, 2011 at 2:58 am

      I love the spongecake bit, haha. It sounds very human to me.

    • Anna @ D16 September 14, 2011 at 10:09 am

      See, with stories like those, I kind of don’t even care if they’re actually true—just wanting them to be true and knowing that someone came up with them in the first place is enough for me!! I will forever think of sponge cake when I see a Pollock from now on, and that’s a fabulous thing.

      (Can you believe I had NO idea that Charles Saatchi is married to Nigella Lawson?! Not sure how that passed me by…)

    • Alis September 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      I googled the melting head rumour, I think it’s true, BBC and The Guardian would not lie. (or would they?)

    • Anna @ D16 September 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm

      “They discovered the mistake when red liquid was found oozing across the floor. ”


  • Reply Benita September 14, 2011 at 3:33 am

    I love the “Some assembly required” note on the box.
    And I do have to say I’m very tempted.

  • Reply Hannah September 14, 2011 at 3:52 am

    Oh god, the teeth on the Hirst skull… The teeth!!!!
    The iHirst version is clearly better, based on the superior bite!

    • PamDammage September 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      Yea, it almost reads as an inverse of the stereotypicall metal-filled rapper’s mouth. Bling on the outside instead of the inside.

      Also, can you imagine the buck teeth this thing would have if the teeth were encrusted too?! “Do I have something in my teeth?”

    • Anna @ D16 September 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm

      I was thinking it would be awesome if it had braces, personally.

    • PamDammage September 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      With colored bands!

      Or is it more morbid (yes, it’s possible!) to imagine this as an adolescent’s skull? I think maybe this piece wouldn’t work if we were looking at baby skulls (maybe they would be too soft for this purpose), or skulls that obviously belonged to trauma victims (I guess it would be difficult to convey whether the trauma was pre- or post-mortem). Something about seeing it in a complete, and rather clean state, lets us imagine the best case scenario for the original owner of the skull.

    • Anna @ D16 September 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      OK, maybe not that morbid…

  • Reply Juliab September 14, 2011 at 9:37 am

    And for those of us who just wouldn’t have the patience (let me guess, about 99.999%?), here’s another copy, thankfully already glued together.

    I think I’ll give them all a miss. A bit too spooky for me.

    • Anna @ D16 September 14, 2011 at 10:07 am

      HAH! Oh my, those are some WHITE choppers!! And yes, my patience would dry up after about 12 minutes, I suspect.

      (I love spooky, though. Bring on on the skulls, I say!)

  • Reply L September 14, 2011 at 9:49 am

    **very hard head slap** WHY didn’t I think of that???!!!

  • Reply Erin September 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

    HA. I just wrote about Damien Hirst yesterday, too, about his spot paintings, specifically. He’s a very interesting character, indeed.

  • Reply el September 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I don’t think I could handle sticking on that many crystals, I’m probably too impatient for that kind of commitment 🙂 The gluing would drive me crazy.
    My dad had a heated discussion with the Saatchi brothers years ago over art, he said that apparently the blood head thing is an “urban myth” but I’d like it too be true too. Saatchi sold it for 1.5 million so I guess it survived.

    • Anna @ D16 September 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      Aren’t there a whole bunch of heads? I thought he made a new one every year as a documentation of the aging process.

  • Reply el September 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I think it’s every 5 years? I only knew about the first one made. Maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention?

  • Reply Alis September 14, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I’m shocked by just finding Mr. Saatchi and Nigella are married. She had been leading us on with all that flirtatious chocolate licking off her fingers action. And that freezer she keeps visiting for midnight snacks, there’s a blood sculpture in it? That’s so creepy.

  • Reply Simone September 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Well what a find. My kids would love this (I think).

    Nigella was first married to a radio-journalist, not handsome but with great “swagger” so very cool. She was flirty on TV then as well. Unfortunately he died after losing his voice due to throat cancer. (This was in a documentary.) At the time I had never heard of her, I just saw her sitting in the background at all the docters appointments (in the documentary). Saatchi was a friend of her late husband.

    I commend her for being so alive and vivacious in the face of something like that. And ofcourse after going through something like that who cares that people are always talking about your figure (thank god for women who ignore that kind of stuff)? At least she has her health. So: VIVA Nigella!!!

    I love the butterfly heart-shaped Hirst-paintings. Morgan (D16) talks about faking real art today, I’ll think about that.

    • Anna @ D16 September 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Hahaha, Simone—this is D16. Morgan is at the Brick house. 😀 Maybe you saw the conversation she and I had on Twitter a couple of weeks ago about copying Hirst’s dot paintings? She’s all for it, copying art—I have mixed feelings. I think I need to just let it go, though, and enjoy the humor of (poorly) replicating stuff that I’ll never be able to afford.

    • Simone September 15, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      O yeah sorry ;D
      Damian Hirst’s studio is unbelievable!!! It is gigantic (saw that in another documentary)!!! No wonder his art is so expensive. He was making splatter paintings with the TV people. That looked rather beautiful as well. and it wouldn’t feel as much like cheating (like you describe) If I had money I would buy a picture by Sally Mann (anything, even the corpses I think are beautiful).

  • Reply The Guilty Hyena September 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks for introducing me to iartistlondon! fink-dafied is DIY high Art!

  • Reply Grumble Girl September 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Damien Hirst? Skulls? Crystal sparkly things?! Sign me up straight away…

    I wanted to make a skull decal on Oliver’s headphones, but I got all lazy and opted for his initials instead. Still rad. Man, I love me some bling on things…

  • Reply BehaveRight September 15, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    BUST mag actually posted something about a make-your-own-Damien-Hirst-skull-knock-off a while back. I like the kit, though.

  • Reply CariStereo October 8, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I love that Hirst skull. I can see myself with that kit, either throwing it across the room after covering a 4-inch square or psyching myself to believe it’s an exercise in Zen-like meditation.

    I might just stick with my plan to make Martha Stewart glitter skulls (in a gunmetal colored glitter). Those are pretty, too.

  • Reply Sher Pierson October 14, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Well – I have to tell you…. for one of my shows I did a rip-off of this skull. I called it Damien’s Folly. I covered a resin skull with crystals – in a smoke gold color. It sold out of my show right away ($3000) to an art collector who understood that it was a statement about the Hirst piece. The reason this piece was so easy to poke fun at, is because of the fact that it did sell – for the asking price – to Damien Hirst and a small group of friends that got together to “BUY” it. There is no proof that any money actually changed hands, however. But he was able to announce that it had sold, and for the asking price $79,120,000. “Things that make you go Hmmmmm.”

  • Reply Naroa October 28, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Wow such a huge discussion!!! Nice read.

    Happy you liked my work. It is actually a unique piece but part of the concept is to make it look like a real business.
    I had one made. If you are curious it actually took 9 hours and the girl who made it said that it was very relaxing.
    Some images of the actual display here:!__main/vstc2=exhibitions


  • Reply melinda March 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I love this critique of Damien Hirst (skull is featured). “Art Thoughtz about Damein Hirst” by Hennesey

    • Anna @ D16 March 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      Oh yes, Hennesey’s critique is definitely fantastic!

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