What makes a person an artist, or something art, has nothing to do with awards, sales, ego, etc.
Of course, art might bring the artist accolades, and the luckiest might even be able to make a living off of their art, but there are many artists producing art who don't get recognized, and don't make money off of their art, but they continue producing it anyway.
For me, that's what makes a person an artist and what they do art: an artist will make their art no matter the outcome. Art is a product of self expression and passion, not greed and egotism. An artist produces art for the love of art, first and foremost. There might be other factors involved, as well, but those are secondary to the art itself.
I am not going to mention any names, because I don't want to promote those individuals more than others already have, since, I am guessing, that is why this person did what he/she did: for him/her, it's all about staying in the spotlight and making money.
Maybe this person and the people he/she was promoting are artists. I don't know. I believe it depends on their motivation as to whether that is true or not. It seems like these people are more interested in the spectacle than they are in just producing the product. It seems like their images, and the benefits they receive from maintaining those images, come first.
If their interest was in making art, then I would like to think it would be more evident that they were not just trying to maintain their wealth and fame. After all, you shouldn't have to proclaim yourself an artist. It is something you earn, and as much as you want people to consider you it, it doesn't mean that you are or will ever be considered one.
That being said, I believe my definition of an artist, as someone who produces art for the love of producing art, is fairly universal. If you truly are an artist, people will recognize it. People will see your genuine love of making your art, and you will not have to go around proclaiming yourself an artist in order to be labeled as such.
The person this person was protesting could also be considered an artist, and, indeed, is considered one, and has been considered one, by many. I don't know that this person's status as an artist has ever been questioned, especially when you look at his/her past work, and his/her level of involvement in producing the "art" itself.
This person also tends to stay out of the spotlight (as far as I am aware, anyways), and he/she has always pushed boundaries and made decisions that seem to go beyond a desire to be famous or to maintain a level of fame since what he/she has produced has never really fallen in with what is popular in the moment, necessarily. It seems to be more about the art itself and not the artist.
When it comes down to it, of all of these individuals, who would most likely continue making "art" if the fame, money, and recognition were all taken away? I can't answer that--only they can--but those who truly would are the artists.