Long story short: teenager steals a pack of pencils (above) from multi-millionaire artist, is arrested and up to be fined £500,000.

Slightly longer story: 18-year-old graffitist Carwreck, sorry – Cartrain – arrested by the Art and Antiques squad from New Scotland Yard for the theft of a packet of pencils from Tate Britain gallery. Currently out on bail, he returns to court tomorrow (Fri 11 Sept ’09).

Charges being laid are:

  • £10 million worth of damages.
  • £500,000 worth of theft.


The story, illustrated:

The exhibit from which the pencils – a “rare” pack of Faber Castell Mongol 482 pencils – were stolen is a Damien Hirst installation called Pharmacy, purchased by the Tate in 1996 and now commodity-valued at £10 million.

Cartrain has had previous run-ins with Hirst for using his famous diamond skull image (For the Love of God) in posters – these were confiscated, and of the £200 Cartrain made from them, Hirst is demanding £195. After which Cartrain played a bodalicious prank – he created a poster which he snuck into the National Portrait Gallery and hung and labeled as a “portrait” of Hirst – the diamond skull plastered with a censored label.

So it was that on July 4, Cartrain, visiting the Pharmacy installation, simply picked up the pencils and walked out, and issued this ransom:

“For the safe return of Damien Hirst’s pencilers [sic] I would like my artworks back that DACS [Design and Artists Copyright Society] and Hirst took off me in November. It’s not a large demand… Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or on 31 of July the pencils will be sharpened. He has been warned.”

For which he created a fake police poster. Thence, his arrest, along with his father (on suspicion of “harbouring the pencils”, but later released).

If convicted they will both be sentenced to hard labour for the term of their natural lives, and fed only stale bread and water.

And thus, Leddies and Genmen, do we protect the artists of the land (or, at least the wealthy ones from the poor) – those guardians of our spirit, pathfinders of morality – to the full, awful extent of the Law. Long live Justice, long live art! For the love of God.

We will keep you posted.


The original offending posters:



The National Portrait Gallery poster (copy of):


Photo: unusualimage/Flickr


The Pharmacy installation:


The pencils were lifted from the desk in the foreground. Photo © Damien Hirst.


The fake police poster by Cartrain:



Ah, contemporary art! Damien Hirst! For the love of God!

My immediate response has been very well pre-empted by a comment made by another graffitist, which I posted last month (which btw I see as gender-neutral in spirit). Here it is again:



More Hirsty triumphs:



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Reading without merit
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