Artist Chris Ofili's controversial work The Holy V
Artist Chris Ofili's controversial work "The Holy Virgin Mary" is seen in the Brooklyn Museum of Art as part of the Sensation exhibit in New York 30 September 1999. Doug Kanter—AFP/Getty Images

Virgin Mary Painting Encrusted With Elephant Dung to Go to Auction for $2.3 Million

May 29, 2015

Chris Ofili's 1996 painting "The Holy Virgin Mary" created a stink when it showed in New York in 1999—then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani was among the protesters of the elephant dung-encrusted portrait of the Madonna surrounded by photos of butts. But now its upcoming auction may prove the work's value once and for all: Christie's in London has set an estimated price of $2.3 million.

Ofili was one of the Young British Artists (YBAs) who scandalized and delighted the art world with works like Tracy Emin's "My Bed," a mattress covered in detritus like empty liquor bottles and used condoms, and Damien Hirst's shark preserved in formaldehyde. Ofili is a winner of the prestigious Turner Prize and has been recognized with several high-profile retrospectives.

An Australian collector, David Walsh, is the current owner of the 8-foot-tall painting, and says the proceeds will go toward funding an expansion of his Museum of Old and New Art. The auction is set to take place June 30.

[NYT]

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