Virgin Mary Portrait Made of Elephant Dung Sells for $4.5 Million

The price for the Chris Ofilil's art piece increased twice during auction.

“The Holy Virgin Mary” (1996) created by British artist Chris Ofilil partly from elephant dung, sold on June 30th at a Christie’s auction in London for about $4.5 million. According to the Los Angeles Times, the auction started at $2.8 million. The name of the buyer was not disclosed.

The portrait depicts a black Virgin Mary whose open clothing reveals a breast made of elephant dung. The background features pornographic magazine cutouts.

The piece gained notoriety when it appeared in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. New York mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, called the painting “sick stuff” and “anti-Catholic.” The Museum lost municipal funding due to the scandal.

The artwork is Ofili’s most famous piece. In 1998 the artist was awarded with a Turner Prize, one of the most precious awards of contemporary art.

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