The BBC reported yesterday that a work by Jan Christensen, Relative Value, was stolen from an Oslo gallery. The work was a collection of kroner notes, worth about $16,300.
The idea behind the work was to make a statement about “the value of art, and about capitalism, and how the art world works.” He may have also taught us about how theft comes into play as well. The work had already been sold to a buyer, for precisely the 100,000 kroner which were used to create the work.
I’m not sure you could technically classify this as an art theft as the thieves were not stealing the art, they were stealing the kroner. In any event, Christensen seemed quite happy with the publicity, “It proves my theory that I have made an artwork that has a value outside the gallery space.”
Apparently he was making a point that someday these notes would return to circulation, and it appears they have in this case. No details on what the security was like at the gallery. Christensen admits that security was considered a problem before he installed the work, but there are no details given as to the kinds of security measures put in place.
To be a bit cynical about the whole story, sometimes a theft can be an artist’s best friend. Though he lost this work, the curious nature of this theft has appeared in countless news outlets around the world, and he is getting a great deal of publicity.