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The Damien Hirst Affair

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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PIRATED BOOTY For the Love of God Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull is set to fetch somewhere around £50 million. But at what cost inspiration?

If you're one of those people who obsessively wonders, "Oh, where does that Damien Hirst get his ideas?!" it looks like we have an answer: mid-market jewelers in London's West End. As first reported in Private Eye, the London jeweler Butler & Wilson features numerous pieces bearing a resemblance to Hirst's infamous bejeweled skull. And even when you deduct the cost of the diamonds from the final sale price, the measly £48 Hirst may have invested in his research still makes the markup obnoxiously steep.

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The controversy is a continuation of past accusations pointing out Hirst's alleged history of plagiarism. In 2003, the artist was accused of stealing a pattern from a coloring book. And in 2000, Hirst made a payment to the toy maker Humbrol after the manufacturer claimed his statue Hymn just happened to look a lot like this anatomy set from your seventh grade health class.

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