Last Friday, the revamped Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas unveiled the Empathy Suite, a two-story Sky Villa designed by Damien Hirst and firm Bentel & Bentel. The controversial artist designed six standalone artworks for the suite, while the rest of the design grew out of close collaboration with the award-winning firm.
"They have allowed me to create a suite in the hotel and design everything and completely fill it with my art," says Hirst. For decades, the artist has cultivated a bold, unapologetic personal brand—and the Empathy Suite is entirely on-brand.
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For $200,000 for a two-night stay, blue chip guests can enjoy the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom suite—undoubtedly a peak experience for Las Vegas high rollers. Each bedroom offers a California-king size bed, palatial closets, and en-suite bathrooms. The Empathy Suite also boasts a gym, a massage room, a salt therapy room, and a cantilevered jacuzzi overlooking The Strip.
The hefty price tag includes 24-hour butler service, a chauffeured car, a private tour of the casino’s art collection, $10,000 worth of resort credit, and exclusive access to Palms’ myriad offerings. "The Empathy Suite designed by Damien Hirst is the pinnacle of luxury combining museum-worthy art and a truly legendary hospitality experience...for a once-in-a-lifetime Las Vegas stay," explains Jon Gray, General Manager of Palms Casino Resort.
Nearly every centimeter of the space demonstrates Hirst’s flair for the provocative. Two bull sharks suspended in formaldehyde greet guests as they enter. A diamond-filled pill cabinet runs the length of the game room, while an expansive, 13-seat bar displays medical waste. The artist’s signature butterfly and pharmacy motifs extend to the floors where inlaid mosaic pills and butterflies accent the gray marble.
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Peter Bentel of Bentel & Bentel Architects describes the suite as an exploration of play with a dose of "Why not?"—an approach that seems apt for Hirst’s divisive body of work. The artist is no stranger to controversy, and the Empathy Suite—even in name—is another way the artist continues to welcome it.