"LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Damien Hirst, former BritArt bad boy whose works infuriate and inspire in equal measure, did it again on Friday with a diamond-encrusted platinum cast of a human skull priced at a cool $98 million.
The skull, cast from a 35-year-old 18th-century European male, is coated with 8,601 diamonds, including a large pink diamond worth more than $8 million in the center of its forehead.
"It shows we are not going to live for ever. But it also has a feeling of victory over death," Hirst said as the sparkling skull was unveiled to the public for the first time amid tight security at central London's White Cube gallery.
Hirst, who has a preoccupation with blood and death and whose works range from diced and pickled quadrupeds to bloody depictions of birth, said he was inspired by similarly bejeweled Aztec skulls. While the skull is platinum and the diamonds flawless -- and ethically sourced, Hirst stressed -- the teeth are real."
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