Teenage artist steals Hirst pencils worth £500,000

A 17 year-old graffiti artist could be formally charged with theft after stealing a box of pencils from a Damien Hirst art installation.

The theft my sound trivial, but the pencils are actually worth £500,000 and part of Hirst's sculpture, Pharmacy, which is worth £10m.

The pencils themselves are also claimed to be very rare, from the "Faber Castell dated 1990 Mongol 482 Series."

The teenage artist, known as Cartrain, was arrested, released on bail and is now waiting to find out if he will be formally charged with causing damage to the iconic artwork.

The theft is the latest episode in an ongoing feud between Hirst and Cartrain.

Last year, the teemager used an IMAGE_of Hirst's famous diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God, without Hirst's permission in collages featured in the online gallery 100artworks.com.

100artworks.com had to surrender Cartain's artworks and verbally apologise following a number of legal letters send by Hirst's lawyers to Tom Cuthbert, Cartain's art dealer.

Hirst also reported the incident to the Design and Artists Copyright Society.

Cartrain reportedly intended the pencil theft, which happened in July, as a harmless game of tit-for-tat in the ongoing dispute, according to The Independent newspaper.

The teenager also created a "wanted"-style poster.

"For the safe return of Damien Hirst's pencils I would like my artworks back that DACS and Hirst took off me in November," read the poster.

"It's not a large demand... Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or on 31 July the pencils will be sharpened. He has been warned."

Cartrain is on currently on bail. If he is convicted, his actions will feature among the highest value modern art thefts in Britain.

Police also arrested Cartrain's 49 year-old father who they suspected of harbouring the pencils - but he was later cleared of any involvement.

Yesterday, Cartrain told The Independent: "I went to the Tate Britain and by chance had a golden opportunity to borrow a packet of pencils from the Pharmacy exhibit."

"That same day I made up a fake police appeal poster advertising that the pencils had been removed from the Tate and that if anyone had any information they should contact the police on the phone number advertised."

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

"The act of theft was clearly a stunt to gain publicity," said a police statement.

The Pharmacy sculpture was featured in the Tate Modern's Classified exhibition which closed at the end of last month.

The pencils will reportedly be put back in the Pharmacy scuplture by Hirst, even though it is no longer on public display.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£65,000
In stock