Saturday, 5 September 2009

Cartrain nicks Damien Hirst's pencils: milllionaire artist in a huff

Who'd break a butterfly on a wheel? Damien Hirst gets out his blunderbuss and enters a new round of gnat-squishing with renewed hostilities against the 17 year-old graffiti artist, Cartrain.

If you remember, last year the multi-millionaire "conceptual" artist threatened Cartrain with legal action over his use of an image of Hirst's diamond head (For The Love Of God sold for £50 million) resulting in the mischievous teenager having to surrender the Xerox copies of the work and the measly couple of hundred quid he'd made to the art world's favourite pantomime villain.

Which is rich considering the controversy over the origins of some of Hirst's own work. Imaginative "borrowing" is okay for anyone with deep pockets but not for impoverished upstarts learning from The Master.

Cartrain is said to have walked into Tate Britain in June and removed a box of "FABER CASTELL dated 1990 Mongol 482 series" pencils from Hirst's Pharmacy installation. (Ker-rist, is Damien still doing that?) He's been arrested for causing £10 million worth of damage and £500,000 of theft. Not only that, but one condition of the case resolution is that Cartrain has to replace the pencils himself. Mmm, I'll have that with relish. Nuthin' like a bit of public humiliation to teach the whippersnapper who's boss.

Cartrain says:
For the safe return of Damien Hirst's pencils I would like my artworks back that DACS and Hirst took off me in November. It's not a large demand. He can have his pencils back when I get my artworks back. DACS are now not taking any notice of my emails and I have asked nicely more than five times to try and resolve this matter. Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or on 31st of July the pencils will be sharpened. He has been warned.

Either this is a cynical publicity stunt and Hirst really loves Cartrain and this is way of sticking him in the public eye, or else he's totally lost his sense of humour and needs to get out more.

More in The Independent and The Telegraph.


thespanishprisoner said...

It sounds to me as though Damien Hirst is the British version of Shepard Fairey.

Madam Miaow said...

Interesting, SP. I looked him up on Wiki and found:

"Fairey has come under criticism for appropriating others' artwork into his own while failing to provide attribution for the work used. However, he has threatened to sue artists for the same technique.

"Austin, Texas graphic designer Baxter Orr did his own take on Fairey's work in a piece called Protect, with the iconic Obey Giant face covered by a SARS respiratory mask. He started selling prints through his website marketed as his own work. On April 23, 2008 Orr received a signed cease-and-desist order from Fairey's attorneys, telling him to pull Protect from sale because they alleged it violated Fairey's trademark. Fairey threatened to sue, calling the designer a "parasite"."


Thanks for the reference. said...

Please help support Cartrain and his legal battle...

Cartrain's art is available to by from

Matthew said...

My name is Matthew Edwards.

I have been planning for some time to stand as an Independent Member of Parliament in Vauxhall at the next General Election. My main website is and I have a subsidiary one at which I intend to delegate in the long-term.

I have noted the story regarding Cartrain and Mr.Hirst with interest. Mr.Hirst's workshop "Science" is in the constituency of Vauxhall. As well as being a poor politician I am also a very poor amateur artist and recently made a piece of work entitled "For the Love of Dog" which I intend to offer for sale to Mr.Hirst for £1,000,000, with the proviso that every penny goes into a local microfinance scheme along the lines of the Bangladeshi Grameen Bank to provide funding for grassroots, ecologically sustainable enterprise and employment.

What on earth will happen next? Curiouser and curiouser!

Best wishes,


Madam Miaow said...

Ha! Matthew, I think you have stumbled on something brilliant. If everyone did this Damien might finally register how absurd this looks.

All together, "I am Cartrain." "No, I am Cartrain." "No, I am Cartrain, and so is my lawyer."

BTW, your blog looks interesting. Good luck with your election campaign. I shall add you to my links.

will brown said...

Maybe Cartrain nicking Hirst's pencils and Hirst suing him is back to the old business of artists being more interested in the world of artists and art than anything else. Isn't there anything else in the world to do art about or get upset about?

Madam Miaow said...

Yup, Will. There certainly is. Please see other posts at mine.

Boldizar said...

I interviewed Damien earlier this year (before the Cartrain stuff started), and there is no way this is just about the art/appropriation. He's either helping Cartrain, there is some personal animosity there, or his legal team is running on its own.

The interview is republished at