Damien Hirst's least favourite artist donates work for the homeless helpline charity auction

Cartrain has faced homelessness and a rift with Damien Hirst

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The Independent Online

An artist once involved in an infamous rift with Damien Hirst has donated an artwork to our Christmas appeal auction after Centrepoint helped him through homelessness.

Cartrain was helped by the charity who placed him in a hostel after he ended up sleeping rough in December 2014.

The 24-year-old is now auctioning one of his most famous works – inspired and endorsed by Turner Prize-winning artists Gilbert and George – to help raise funds for Centrepoint’s new Young and Homeless helpline.

It is among lots in our online auction launching on Tuesday 13 December which include luxury holidays, top sporting days out and the chance to train with an Olympic cycling champion.

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Cartrain is donating his work ‘Gilbert and George’ to the Young and Homeless Helpline auction (Cartrain)

The street artist, who remains anonymous, said: “Centrepoint saved me when I was in a really bad place. Sleeping rough is really horrible. It’s not something I think anyone should have to do.”

Cartrain, from Leytonstone in east London, rose to prominence in 2008 when he was involved in a high-profile copyright row with Hirst, said to be the world’s richest living artist.

The Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) took action on Hirst’s behalf after the then 16-year-old Cartrain created works containing images of Hirst’s £50m diamond skull sculpture For the Love of God

The teenager handed over the artworks to DACS and forfeited the £200 he had made. 

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One of the works to which Damien Hirst took exception (Cartrain)

He was arrested by the Metropolitan Police seven months later when in revenge he walked into Tate Britain and removed a pack of rare Faber Castell pencils from Hirst’s £10m installation, Pharmacy

Cartrain put up “Wanted” posters around London warning the pencils would be “sharpened” unless his own artworks depicting Hirst’s skull were returned.  

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Damien Hirst (Getty)

He faced charges of a £500,000 art theft but in the end no further action was taken.

He told The Independent: “It’s fair to say we are still not the best of friends.”

Cartrain needed help from Centrepoint when he and his girlfriend lost their home shortly before Christmas 2014. 

He said they were kicked out of their rented flat in near London’s Victoria station when they complained about the property to the landlord.

The landlord kept their £2,000 deposit, leaving them penniless, and as the artist had no commissions or regular income, they could not secure a new home.

They ended up “sofa-surfing” staying with friends – or spending nights in the 24-hour café in St Thomas’s Hospital.  

When they were asked to leave by the hospital, they would wander the streets at night or travel until dawn on night buses to stay safe.

It was the second time Cartrain had been homeless, after a family breakdown made it impossible to stay at his family home in east London and left him living in squats aged 17.

He said: “It’s a scary experience, when you realise you have absolutely nowhere to stay. You really need help.”

The artist got in touch with Centrepoint after his GP, who was helping him with anxiety and insomnia from the stress of sleeping rough, referred him to the charity.

He spent 18 months living in a hostel in Westminster before the charity helped him move on to a studio flat.  

During that period his art career began to take off. He is currently exhibiting prints at Mayfair gallery Imitate Modern.

The artwork he is donating to the auction is one of a series of collages he created in 2012 featuring images of Gilbert and George. It has been valued at between £2,000 and £3,000.

The images on the artwork were later reproduced by the contemporary art duo in their “Double Doors” work exhibited at White Cube Gallery in Hoxton, east London, in 2014.

The Independent has already raised more than £1m through our Young and Homeless Helpline appeal.

We are raising funds for Centrepoint to launch a Freephone number and online service to ensure the thousands of young people facing or experiencing homelessness get the support they need.

Cartrain said: “I wasn’t aware of the services out there. I was told I wasn’t priority need by the council and I ended up on the street. If I could have turned to the helpline I could have got help sooner.”

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