Clint Jenkins/Courtesy of Palms Casino Resort. All artworks © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd
Travel + Leisure Staff
May 21, 2018

When you think of sharks and Las Vegas, you probably think of card games and people — not the animal. But with the arrival of Palms Casino Resort’s new bar, that association might change.

As part of its $620-million renovation, the hotel recently unveiled a massive art collection with works loaned by owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. In addition to new pieces from contemporary artists, visitors can see works from heavyweights like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Worhol and Takashi Murakami.

One artist with a particularly significant footprint on the project is Damien Hirst, the British artist famous for his provocative installations. The Palms’ new bar, Unknown, was designed by First himself and takes its name from “The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded),” one of Hirst’s iconic shark tanks.

Positioned above the central bar, the work displays a 13-foot tiger shark suspended inside a six-foot-tall steel tank filled with formaldehyde. Hirst also created 16 new graphic spot paintings to surround the tank.

If the Las Vegas piece sounds familiar, it’s because the shark is part of Hirst’s Natural History series, which started back in 1991 when Hirst unveiled his first sculpture — a very similar tiger-shark installation titled “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.” Reportedly, that piece fetched as much as $12 million when it was sold in 2014.

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