Damien Hirst has been accused of copying in a new lawsuit. According to Canadian artist Colleen Wolstenholme, Hirst, who is best known for his preserved animal works, spin paintings, and his collaboration with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s label, The Row (see their $55,000 Prescription Pill Bag above, which is not subject to litigation), has “copied and/or created derivative works of Wolstenholme’s works, namely Wolstenholme’s Pill Charms and Pill Charm Bracelet.” According to Wolstenholme’s complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York, a federal court in Manhattan, last week, Hirst, “an internationally recognized artist, entrepreneur, and art collector,” is responsible for “willfully and wrongfully copying, creating, manufacturing, distributing, and/or selling [works that infringe Wolstenholme’s] on an ongoing and continuous basis.”
Wolstenholme alleges 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 has secured several Canadian copyright registrations in connection with the jewelry and has applied for registration status in the U.S. for such designs, as well. She claims that “out of the thousands of pharmaceutical pills available in the marketplace, Wolstenholme used her own creativity and criteria to specifically select, organize, coordinate, and arrange certain pills to include in her Works, namely, antidepressants and psychotropic medications in general.”
She further asserts in the complaint 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.”
Enter: Hirst, whom Wolstenholme says “has [had a] rather notorious career, and has been the subject of numerous allegations of copying fellow artists.” She claims that “Defendant Hirst’s infringement [which takes the form of pill bracelets, which are being sold on his e-commerce site, Other Criteria, for between $15,000 and $35,000] has been continuous and ongoing since 2004 … [and has been] done willfully in violation of Wolstenholme’s copyrights.” As a result, Wolstenholme has asked the court to order Hirst to immediately and permanently cease all sales of the allegedly infringing works and to award her damages, including disgorging all profits that Hirst made from the sale of the allegedly infringing bracelets. Wolstenholme is asserting claims of Copyright Infringement, Copyright Infringement Under the Laws of Canada, and Unfair Competition.