For someone at the top of art’s 2008 Power List, Damien Hirst is going through some dark times.
First, there was that strange quote from him about his work being overpriced. The whole point of an over-the-top artist like Hirst is that he would never ever admit that sort of thing — it’s like breaking down the fourth wall. Uncool.
Then came news that he had let go of a bunch the artist elves in his London-based workshop. Yes, times are tough, but Hirst is mega rich and the 17 employees who were let go made approximately £19,000 a year each. For most of us almost £325,000 in savings is nothing to sneeze at, but this is a man who sells sliced up cows for more money than we might see over the course of an entire lifetime.
But all of this is just minor lead up to the latest, lowest point in the Damien Hirst Devolution.
According to the Independent, Hirst is going after a 16-year-old urban stencil artist named Cartain because he used images of the artist’s infamous diamond-encrusted skull in his graffiti prints. The amount of money at stake in the squabble? £200. That’s how much Cartain has made from his collages containing the swiped image.
According to the paper: “He was surprised to learn Hirst had not only seen the work but also contacted the Design and Artists Copyright Society (Dacs), who apparently informed the young artist he had infringed Hirst’s copyright. The older man has reportedly demanded that Cartrain not only remove the works from sale but ‘deliver up’ originals, along with any profit made on those sold, or face legal action.”
As they point out, this isn’t the first time the skull is courting controversy. Back in 2007, Hirst’s artist friend John LeKay publicly accused him of cribbing the idea from the jewel-encrusted skulls he’d been making since 1993.