Art critics around the world might disagree on the worthiness of mega-artist Damien Hirst, but there's no denying his ability to intrigue the museum-going masses of Britain.
His first major exhibition in 20 years was recently declared the most visited solo show ever held at the Tate Modern in London, according The London Evening Standard, who reported the nearly half a million visitors came to see the show since its opening this April. The retrospective, which featured 70 of the artist's most famous works from everyone's favorite formaldehyde-soaked shark to his signature butterflies, spots and spins, attracted an average of 3,000 visitors per day.
While the number of Hirst gazers is impressive enough (463,087 to be exact), like much of the notable successes of the world's wealthiest artist, the price tag associated with the exhibit is the real jaw-dropper. Hirst and his vitrines brought in a shocking £6.5 million ($10,570,000) in ticket sales, as millions of patrons had no problem paying the £14 ($23) entry fee. No word yet on whether or not any of Hirst's fans purchased the £36,800 ($59,900) limited-edition plastic skulls, the £250 ($410) rolls of wallpaper and £310 ($500) deck chairs designed by the artist, which could make the exhibit even more profitable.
Before Hirst, a 2004 retrospective by American artist Edward Hopper held the title of the most-visited solo show, followed by a 2010/2011 exhibit of the works of French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin. Compared to the entirety of the Tate Modern's history, Hirst's retrospective ranks as the second most visited exhibition overall, falling behind the joint Matisse and Picasso show in 2002 that attracted 467,166 patrons.
Matisee, Picasso and Hirst still take a back seat to the formidable Marina Abramovic, whose 2010 "The Artist is Present" exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City witnessed over 500,000 visitors. And that exhibit, which consisted of the performance artist sitting silent and motionless in a chair for 736 hours in total, only lasted three months.
Check out the slideshow of some of Hirst's most notable pieces below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section: