Damien Hirst has designed a fictional museum, with works of fantasy, based on a myth that he created. What he would like viewers to do, is to suspend their beliefs and enter the world that he has created as if they, too, are seeing the works from a 2,000-year-old art collection that has been dredged up from the bottom of the sea.

The Story of the Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

A ship called the Apistos (which means unbelievable in Greek) sank about 2000 years ago. The remains of the wrecked ship was found on the bottom of the ocean, off the east African coast, in 2008.

The Apistos belonged to a freed slave named Cif Amotan ll. Amotan was an art collector, like Hirst, and had many fabulous treasures stored on board. When the ship was found, the archeologists who discovered it, called on Damien Hirst to help them salvage the treasures.

Hirst won’t say exactly how much he has spent on the exhibit,  just that  more than £50 million of his own money has gone into the project.

Two Palaces and a Movie

Hirst has arranged the sculptures and other artifacts in the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana, two museums run by François Pinault, the Parisian collector who also owns Christie’s auction house. Many of the works were made to appear as if they had undergone 2,000 years in the sea, and are covered in coral and other jewel-like ocean growth.

Visitors move through the museums as if they are viewing the collection of Amotan. Hirst also made a film of divers at the shipwreck.

“For me,” Hirst told a BBC interviewer, “ the show is totally about belief, and it’s like, you can believe whatever you want to believe.”

The cost of the works reportedly, range from between $500,000 and more than $5 million dollars. Many of them are very large and buyers may need to have an 18th century Palazzo in which to display them.

Demon with a Bowl is the largest piece, at 60-feet high, and stands in the foyer of the Palazzo Grassi. Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable opens on Palm Sunday, a month before the start of the Venice Biennale in May.

Damien Hirst at VFA

We have Damien Hirst sculptures and prints for sale in our gallery. All the works in our gallery can be displayed in venues smaller than a Palazzo. Contact us for more information about the work of Damien Hirst and the other artists available at VFA.