YBA Artist Damien Hirst is in the process of being sued by the Canadian artist and jewelry designer Colleen Wolstenholme for intellectual property infringement. Ms Wolstenholme claims her pill charm bracelets were plagiarised by Britain’s wealthiest artist.
A lawsuit filed in a Manhattan federal court claims, the pill motif in her work first appeared in 1996 and Hirst copied the imagery to produce a bracelet incorporating a similar design. The lawsuit states Hirst “willfully and wrongfully copied the accessory by creating, manufacturing, and/or selling the jewellery on an ongoing and continuous basis.”
Colleen Wolstenholme, a Nova Scotia-based artist reated the bracelet, in 1996. They sell for between $1,000 and $3,500, and have been displayed publicly in galleries marketed and advertised in newspapers, magazines, and online, both in Canada and the US.
It was noted that Damien Hirst has been selling his version of the pill bracelets on his online shop “Other Criteria” for between $15,000 and $35,000, since 2004. Wolstenholme, has shown that she holds copyrights for the designs in Canada and has applied for her designs to be protected under copyright in the US. She described Hirst as “notorious” and alleged that the British artist “has been subject of numerous allegations of copying fellow artists.”
The Canadian jeweller has asked the courts to order a cease and desist and to suspend sales of Hirst’s version of the pill charm bracelet under copyright violation and unfair competition laws, and she has asked the court to award her damages, as well as the payment of all profits made from the unlawful sale of the jewelry.
This isn’t the first time that Hirst has been accused of plagiarism. According to the Observer, in 2007 the member of the Young British Artists group was accused by his former friend John LeKay of A spokesperson for Science Ltd stated “We refute the claim made by Colleen Wolstenholme. Damien Hirst designed his earliest pill work in 1988, long before Wolstenholme created her first jewellery. We will defend any action brought against Damien.” Colleen Wolstenholme filed the complaint against Hirst and his publishing company Other Criteria on June 10.The case will now go to court.
Top Photo Left: Damien Hirst courtesy of Other Criteria, London Right: Colleen Wolstenholme courtesy Art Mur gallery, Montreal