Whatever Happened To Ed Hardy

And who is Christian Audigier anyway?

I'll never forget opening the box I received from KBC late last year. Totally unexpected, it contained the first Ed Hardy helmet I'd ever seen, with a bitchin' flaming-tiger graphic on each side. It wasn't until I spun it around to the front that I got indignant. "By Christian Audigier," it read in large letters below the Ed Hardy logo. What the fcuk?! (Cue cryptic design house reference.) Why would a biker want some French fashion designer's name scrawled across his forehead? How do you say "douche" in French anyway? Oh wait, that is a French word...

Ironically, not long thereafter the Ed Hardy folks paid a visit to our offices to show us their new line of motorcycle accessories--helmets, jackets, gloves, boots, billet parts, graphics, tie-downs, the works--all embossed with the work of famed California tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy (www.edhardymotorsports.com). They then bussed us cross-town to their headquarters, where we had a meet-and-greet with Christian Audigier himself.

Their offices were the kind of creative space I wish we had here at the magazine, and the boss' digs ... let's just say the word "opulent" doesn't do them justice. Everything was painted white except the walls, covered in alligator skin. And everywhere you looked were vintage and custom motorcycles, most with the Christian Audigier logo painted on their gas tanks. As one attendee put it, "Clearly the guy doesn't have any self-esteem issues."

Be that as it may, it turns out the guy is a bike guy. "I grew up in France, so of course I rode motorcycles as transportation," Audigier reveals. And now, on the heels of his success hawking Von Dutch and Ed Hardy T-shirts--and, coming soon, Evel Knievel!--he's delved into the bike business, offering the aforementioned gear and partnering with various bike builders. First came a Yamaha quad, then a Suzuki Hayabusa, and now the Ducati Monster shown here, offered as part of a 25-unit run of customs that will also include Hypermotards, Streetfighters and 1198s. Maybe the guy's not a douche after all?

As for the real Don Ed Hardy, like the Dread Pirate Roberts he's been retired for years, overseeing and mentoring the artists at his San Francisco studio, Tattoo City. Von Dutch wasn't as fortunate: He died of a stomach abscess caused by alcoholism in 1992.

Built by Alex Mardikian of Rever Corsa in Austin, Texas, this custom Ed Hardy Ducati Monster 1100S features numerous racing components such as Brembo Monobloc brake calipers, BST carbon-fiber wheels, an Ohlins TTX shock, Speedymoto triple clamps, Rizoma controls, STM slipper clutch and Termignoni exhaust. Price: a cool $55,000.