Britain’s richest artist, 54, turns his girlfriend, 26, into his latest exhibit3 min read

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Damien Hirst is going dotty! Britain’s richest artist, 54, turns his ballerina girlfriend, 26, into his latest exhibit by daubing her with speckles of paint

  • Britain’s richest artist pictured daubing his girlfriend Sophie Cannell with paint 
  • The 26-year-old former ballerina is covered in multi-coloured polka dots 
  • Photographer Mario Testino collaborated with Damien Hirst to create artwork  

It’s more than a year since they spotted each other. Now Damien Hirst has transformed his girlfriend Sophie Cannell into a work of art.

Britain’s richest artist, famed for his pickled shark, is pictured daubing the naked 26-year-old former ballerina with multi-coloured polka dots in a portrait by fashion photographer Mario Testino.

Testino, one of Princess Diana’s favourite snappers, posted the image online with the caption: ‘Collaborating with my friend Damien Hirst in turning his girlfriend into artwork’. Hirst, 54, and Miss Cannell – who is only two years older than the eldest of his three sons – have been dating since May 2018 after meeting at Chiltern Firehouse.

The pair appear to have a picture-perfect life together, with the aspiring actress sharing candid photographs of the two to celebrate his birthday last month.

It is not the first time Hirst, who is worth £250million, has been inspired by a younger muse. For his 2017 show, Treasures From The Wreck Of The Unbelievable, he made a statue of his then girlfriend, actress and model Katie Keight, 29.

Hirst has created almost 1,500 spot paintings throughout his career, producing the first few dozen of them himself before bestowing the task on a team of assistants.

The Bristol-born artist has said the paintings came from his ‘phenomenal love of colour’. However, he later confessed the idea was taken from abstract painter Larry Poons. In 2017, one of his spot paintings, Malonic-2-13C Acid (2002), sold for $607,500 (£500,000) at Christie’s New York.

Damien Hirst and Sophie Cannell pose in the Empathy Suite at Las Vegas¿s Palms Casino Resort, which Hirst designed, in March, 2019

Damien Hirst and Sophie Cannell pose in the Empathy Suite at Las Vegas’s Palms Casino Resort, which Hirst designed, in March, 2019

Two of his works, Pyronin Y and Oleoylsarcosine, featuring grids of multi-coloured dots, were stolen from a Notting Hill gallery in 2013.

Hirst’s formaldehyde-preserved tiger shark, which he titled The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living, became a symbol of the Young British Artists movement. Created in 1991, it sold in 2004 for $8 million – but not before Hirst replaced the original, decaying shark. 

"Oleoylsarcosine" by Damien Hirst at the Exhibitionist Gallery in Blenheim Crescent, London. Two signed Damien Hirst artworks worth £33,000 were stolen from the gallery on December 9

“Oleoylsarcosine” by Damien Hirst at the Exhibitionist Gallery in Blenheim Crescent, London. Two signed Damien Hirst artworks worth £33,000 were stolen from the gallery on December 9

Strike a pose! Sophie climbed over a sofa to snap this bikini-clad picture. The furniture and artwork behind suggests the home might be shared with Hirst

Strike a pose! Sophie climbed over a sofa to snap this bikini-clad picture. The furniture and artwork behind suggests the home might be shared with Hirst

Proud girlfriend: Sophie shared this candid snap of her and Hirst pulling funny faces while celebrating his birthday. She called him 'my love' in the post

Proud girlfriend: Sophie shared this candid snap of her and Hirst pulling funny faces while celebrating his birthday. She called him ‘my love’ in the post

Provocative in Paris: Sophie stripped off for a topless snap at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée

Provocative in Paris: Sophie stripped off for a topless snap at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée

VIP treatment: The 26-year-old kicked back on a private jet after holidaying in Santorini in June

VIP treatment: The 26-year-old kicked back on a private jet after holidaying in Santorini in June

Burgeoning romance: Sophie shared this selfie to mark Hirst's 54th birthday

Burgeoning romance: Sophie shared this selfie to mark Hirst’s 54th birthday

Perfectly poised: The former ballet dancer shows off her skills in Beverly Hills in April

Perfectly poised: The former ballet dancer shows off her skills in Beverly Hills in April

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