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Damien Hirst Sued by Jewelry Designer for Plagiarism

According to the business and fashion blog Fashion Law, British artist Damien Hirst is being sued by a Canadian artist and jewelry designer named Colleen Wolstenholme for copyright infringement, copyright infringement under the laws of Canada, and unfair competition. She claims in her suit that Hirst “copied and/or created derivative works of Wolstenholme’s works, namely Wolstenholme’s Pill Charms and Pill Charm Bracelet.” The complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York, a federal court in Manhattan, last week and claims that Hirst, “an internationally recognized artist, entrepreneur, and art collector,” has been “willfully and wrongfully copying, creating, manufacturing, distributing, and/or selling [works that infringe Wolstenholme’s] on an ongoing and continuous basis.”

Wolstenholme states in the suit that she “first began creating three-dimensional sculptures derived from lost-wax castings of pharmaceutical pills in or around 1996. [She] used these sculptures in bracelets, necklaces, pendants, rosaries, earrings, cuff links and rings,” and maintains several Canadian copyright registrations in connection with the jewelry, in addition to applying for registration status in the US for these designs as well. She further notes that her pill bracelet designs, which retail for between $1,000 and $3,500, “have been widely displayed and marketed in the United States and Canada, including on the Internet, and have been featured in various newspaper and magazine articles in both countries, as well as at various galleries.” Of Hirst, Wolstenholme in her complaint describes him as having “[had a] rather notorious career, and has been the subject of numerous allegations of copying fellow artists.” She claims that Hirst’s infringement are his own pill charm bracelets, which are sold on his e-commerce site Other Criteria for between $15,000 and $35,000 and have been since 2004.

Wolstenholme has requested that the court order Hirst to immediately and permanently cease all sales of the allegedly infringing works and to award her damages, including all profits that Hirst made from the sale of the bracelets in question.