Monday 20 May 2019

Artist (17) arrested for Hirst pencil theft

Arifa Akbar in London

HOW MUCH is a box of pencils worth? About €3.99? Well, if they're part of a Damien Hirst art installation, the value is £500,000 (€573,000).

That is what 17-year-old graffiti artist Cartrain discovered when he pilfered some pencils from the sculpture 'Pharmacy'.

When Cartrain walked into Tate Britain and walked off with a few HBs in July, he believed it was a harmless game of tit-for-tat as part of an ongoing feud.

He originally locked horns with the millionaire artist last year, when he used an image of Hirst's famous diamond-encrusted skull 'For the Love of God', to create collages that were put up for sale on an art website.


After a string of lawyers' letters, the gallery surrendered the collages with an apology.

Taking revenge, Cartrain took the box of pencils. He then created a "wanted" style poster that read: "For the safe return of Damien Hirst's pencils I would like my artworks back that DACS and Hirst took off me in November . . . Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or the pencils will be sharpened. He has been warned."

Yesterday, Cartrain said: "A few weeks later I returned home to find out the art and antiques squad from New Scotland Yard had called round with a warrant for my arrest."

He was told by custody officers that the pencils were valued at £500,000 and that he had damaged "the concept of a public artwork titled 'Pharmacy' valued at £10m". Cartrain is on bail until September 11 and, if convicted, his actions will feature among the highest value modern art thefts in Britain.(© Independent News Services)

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