Arts, Culture & Media

A German artist creates a gold rush on an English beach

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Gold bars

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A real-world treasure hunt has hundreds of people flocking to an English beach to dig for gold.

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A German artist has buried gold bars on a public beach as part of the Folkestone Triennial arts festival. Berlin-based Michael Sailstorfer has hidden 30 bars of 24-carat gold, worth over $16,000, deep in the sand of the Outer Harbour beach on the southeast coast of England.

Fortune hunters are being encouraged to search the beach and are allowed to keep the gold they find.

Members of the public, some with plastic buckets and spades, others with metal detectors, started scouring the beach as soon as the tide went out on Thursday.

The art project is called Folkestone Digs.

"The idea is that when [the diggers] go, they leave all this scratched and dug [up] beach. That to [Sailstorfer], is the art," says the BBC's Robin Gibson.

Gibson spent the day talking to treasure hunters, but no one admitted to finding gold.

“They’ve all got theories about where and how [the gold bars] might be buried — but there hasn’t been that pirate cry of ‘Gold!’ anywhere.”

Even if the gold isn't found, the art display has given the town a much-needed boost, according to Gibson.

“Folkestone itself is a rundown town. It has seen better days ... and there are lots of efforts to bring new business, new money, new ways of bringing people into the town.”

The Folkestone Triennial festival runs until November 2 and features works by a number of well-known artists including Yoko Ono and Andy Goldsworthy.