Art stolen for the sum of it’s parts

February 27, 2007 · Print This Article

Canvas hanging in gallery

The banknotes proved too much of a temptation for the thieves

A Norwegian artwork featuring banknotes glued to a canvas has been stolen from the Oslo gallery where it was on show.

The work by artist Jan Christensen, entitled Relative Value, was made up of notes worth 100,000 kroner ($16,300, 12,400 euros).

The robbers got into the gallery by breaking a window.

They then cut each note off the canvas individually and left the 6.5-by-13ft (two-by-four-metre) frame behind.

The work had already been sold to a Norwegian buyer at face value.

“The piece was sold for nothing basically. It was just an exchange,” Mr Christensen told the BBC News website.

“I wanted to make a blunt work with the intention of creating a discussion about the value of art, and about capitalism, and how the art world works,” he said.

Mr Christensen said he did not know whether he would make a replacement.

Frame with artwork removed

The artist wanted to create a discussion about the value of art

“We were afraid something like this might happen,” he said.

“I didn’t want to compromise the artwork but I realised it might cause some problems.”

The thieves managed to make off with the money despite security measures being in place when they broke in late on Sunday.

Mr Christensen believes that the presence in Oslo of many high-profile guests for the King of Norway’s birthday celebrations had diverted many of the city’s police from their usual duties.

Despite the double blow of losing an artwork made up of his own money, Mr Christensen says he finds the theft “interesting”.

“It proves my theory that I have made an artwork that has a value outside the gallery space.”

“It means a lot to me that the myth can continue,” he said, referring to the fact that the notes could end up in general circulation.

He said he found it puzzling that someone might wish to risk jail for relatively small amount of money, and is unsure as to what type of person would have stolen his art.

“It could be a drug user, but at least it’s one who’s interested in art,” he said.

10 thoughts on “Art stolen for the sum of it’s parts”

  1. brad farwell says:

    Wow. That’s so incredibly awesome. I think the empty frame makes it a MUCH better artwork than the piece was before (seemed sort of obvious and very similar to other work).

    I can’t even say how cool that is.

    Which is perhaps for the best.


  2. anonymous says:

    $16,300 is a “relatively small amount of money?”

  3. Bahlzaq says:

    Not in my world!

  4. Hudgens says:

    Mine either, I could not imagine doing a work that expensive out of pocket. Part of me, the jaded artist/businessman feels they were kind of hoping it would happen. It being the cheapest world wide news coverage you can buy but it only works once then not again for a good while.

  5. anonymous says:

    Come on B, aren’t your bahlz made of solid gold? Don’t front.

  6. katie sehr says:

    funny and of coarse not related at all to whatever you are talking about…but i have to wonder..

  7. Balzac says:

    You’re damn riiight, SOLID-gold

  8. Will this scenario unravel to be a hoax? Think about it, this could easily be a staged intervention. The only aspect that makes me somewhat convinced that this piece isn’t a trickster publicity stunt is the fact that the work is already sold. However, without the work sold, you have a relatively mundane and unactivated forum of art market/capitalism issues at hand. The work needed to be sold in order to generate the gammet of discourse the artist desired. Although more importantly the work needed to be stolen in order to generate this type of interest.

  9. Bowl shack says:

    Sounds plausible.

    Wouldn’t be the first hoax in the art world.

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