27 Jun Hirst pays up for Hymn that wasn’t his
Clare Dyer •
The artist Damien Hirst has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to head off legal action for breach of copyright by the designer and makers of a £14.99 toy which bears a remarkable resemblance to his celebrated 20ft bronze sculpture Hymn, bought by Charles Saatchi earlier this year for £1m.
None of the parties would reveal the size of the settlement, but the designer, Norman Emms, said the “goodwill payment” was less than he had hoped for.
Humbrol Limited, maker of the Young Scientist Anatomy Set, has settled for contributions by Hirst to two children’s charities, Children Nationwide and the Toy Trust, in lieu of royalties on the £1m sale.
The artist has also agreed to restrictions on future reproductions of the polychromatic bronze figure, described by one critic as ” a masterpiece” and “the first key work of British art for the 21st century”, which Hirst admitted was inspired by his son Connor’s anatomy set.
Mr Emms, 57, a commercial sculptor in Hertford, made the original model for the toymakers Bluebird, which sold the rights to Humbrol. He said: “It is an exact copy, completely and utterly exact – even the hair, the eyebrows.”
The toy is made of plastic, but both figures show a man stripped of his skin on one side to reveal the muscles, tendons, soft tissues and organs beneath. Humbrol, which is based in Hull, sells more than 10,000 of the toys annually.
Hymn, a pun on the masculine pronoun, is the centrepiece of the current exhibition at the Saatchi gallery in north London titled Ant Noises – an anagram of sensation.
Mr Emms, who has designed toys for Disney and created Thunderbirds models, was paid less than £2,000 for the model on which the 10in high anatomy set was based. He said: “I’m a commercial sculptor not an artsy-fartsy sculptor. My sculptures are mainly for merchandising. If I had done a 20ft one, who would have known it?”
He added: “It looks as if I’ll be doing it for a while – I haven’t got the money to retire.”
Frank Martin, the managing director of Humbrol, said: “Naturally, we have to protect our intellectual property very carefully.
“But we think it’s great that children’s charities are benefiting from this. The anatomy set which inspired Hymn is, after all, an educational aid for children.”
Damien Hirst said: “I’m delighted that this matter is settled to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.”
The artist was on the other side of a copyright row last year, when he threatened to sue British Airways over advertisements using coloured dots for its low-cost airline, Go, which he claimed had copied one of his spot paintings.
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