What do you get an MMA fighter for his 30th birthday? Socks? Bandages? A new shelf for his trophy cabinet?
Not if you’re Lithuanian artist Edgar Askelovic, who’s come up with something special for Conor McGregor – a “hyper-realistic” sculpture valued at £50,000.
Askelovic – better known as Aspencrow – spent five months handcrafting the 100kg sculpture from photographs alone.
“It is an honour Conor has accepted this as a gift from me,” said the Vilnius-born, Birmingham-based artist.
“He is a phenomenon of our time – not just a smart athlete, but also a visionary.”
Born in Dublin in 1988, McGregor rose to become one of the biggest stars in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA).
He claimed the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s featherweight and lightweight titles before trying his hand at boxing.
His first professional boxing bout on 26 August last year saw him stopped in the 10th round by Floyd Mayweather.
Known for his bad-boy behaviour and extensive tattoos, McGregor is due in court later this month to face charges of assault and criminal mischief.
The sculpture, entitled Atlas, will be unveiled at London ’s JD Malat Gallery on 14 July, McGregor’s 30th birthday.
The artist will also make two other versions of the sculpture – one for sale and the other for future exhibition.
Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Aspencrow said he had been inspired by McGregor’s “strong character”.
“I think he’s a phenomenon,” he went on. “It’s normal that someone decided to immortalise him in this way.”
Aspencrow admitted he had neither met nor spoken to McGregor directly, communicating instead via one of the fighter’s friends.
“That’s how I got the information that he knows about the sculpture, and that he accepts it,” he told the BBC.
Aspencrow’s work appears to show McGregor encased or entombed in solid rock, suggesting perhaps he is a captive of his fame – and notoriety.
“It’s up to you what you see in it,” said the artist. “You can see him as a prisoner, or a God, or just as a person.
“I like Conor McGregor – he’s a great guy,” Aspencrow continued. “I feel he’s my soulmate.
“Some of the decisions he makes might not be correct, but none of us are ideal.”
Atlas by Aspencrow will be on show at the JD Malat Gallery from 14 July to 30 September.