Damien Hirst, the World’s Richest Artist, Calls Out the Kid Who Stole His Phone

Hirst posted CCTV footage of the theft on his Instagram story, beaming the thief's image to his 720,000 followers.

Damien Hirst at the Empathy Suite at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. David Becker/WireImage

As of May of this year, it’s been reconfirmed that mega-artist Damien Hirst is still the richest artist in the United Kingdom, with a total net worth of $384 million. In fact, many sources estimate that Hirst, whose signature formaldehyde installations have established him as a champion of the macabre, is actually the richest visual artist in the entire world. Despite his enormous wealth, Hirst recently took to his Instagram account in order to lament a very pedestrian problem: while recently enjoying a meal at a restaurant in Mayfair, London, Hirst’s phone was stolen off an outdoor table by a young man who distracted the artist with a piece of paper while lifting the device.

Although petty thefts like this happen every day, Hirst chose to amplify the incident by sharing CCTV footage of the crime on his Instagram story, accompanied by an explanatory caption. “Gotta be careful these days,” Hirst wrote. “My phone got nicked off the table at Scott’s restaurant while I was having lunch by this young kid. He pretended to be begging and showing me a bit of paper while he swiped my phone!”

While Hirst has every right to be angry that his phone was stolen, it’s ironic that he’d take the step of blasting out the young thief’s face to his 720,000 Instagram followers, given that Hirst has outright admitted in a 2018 conversation with artist Sir Peter Blake that all of his artistic ideas “are stolen anyway.” Hirst has defended this stance by claiming that originality isn’t necessary for the production of fine art, but he’s also been accused of lifting the concept of his “Veil Paintings” from a group of Australian aboriginal artists. Regardless, Hirst currently has an exhibition of his early work up at the Newport Street Gallery in London, which is dedicated to housing and displaying Hirst’s vast personal art collection. In other words, things are going well for him; he’ll probably get over the loss of his phone.

Damien Hirst, the World’s Richest Artist, Calls Out the Kid Who Stole His Phone