Stefan Sagmeister installation removed by Amsterdam Police

Posted on September 21, 2008
Filed Under amsterdam, urban play | 28 Comments

After waking up a bit groggy from the festivities of the Urban Play opening party last night, I went for a walk around the installation sites to see how they had progressed after their first night in the public realm, and, well, I got a little more than I had expected when looking for Stefan Sagmeister’s piece: it was gone.

I had asked Stefan to create a new work for Urban Play, and his piece – a sentence designed using 250,000 Euro cent coins – blew me and everyone away each day as it progressed. I had expected a certain ebb and flow to take place within the piece, which is of course the point of the entire Urban Play project, but to have the entire thing completely disappear overnight was more than anyone had expected. After recovering from the shock, I did some research and discovered that the story behind its removal was stranger than anything I could have imagined.

It seems that the Amsterdam police were called by a resident of one of the overlooking buildings early Sunday morning to report that someone was “stealing an artwork”. As the story goes, people were pocketing a few of the coins, which was also expected, but things got a bit out of hand when a resident saw this happening. So the police responded, and, in a rather bizarre instance of police efficiency, they proceeded to “secure” the artwork, by sweeping up the entire installation.

The event is superbly captured on the flickr page of anjens, who lives in a flat overlooking the site. 

I will update with more info if and when I get any, but for now, I’d like to give my huge thanks to Sagmeister’s team of Joe Shouldice and Richard The, who along with an amazing team of volunteers worked for many days, literally from dawn to dusk, to install the piece. It was a beautiful addition to the Urban Play project, and will be sorely missed.

For now, let’s remember the way it was on Sagmeister’s page on the project.

UPDATE: So, the police say we can have the coins back. Anyone want to suggest what we do with them now?


28 Responses to “Stefan Sagmeister installation removed by Amsterdam Police”

  1. Dennis/PunchDouble on September 22nd, 2008 17:06

    definitely sad to see it all ended this way
    after a week full of work and lots of fun this is the very least i expected to happen

  2. anJens on September 23rd, 2008 06:15

    -you could put the bags into a permanent exhibition
    – you could add a handful of the coins to the original pattern paper and sell it on eBay.
    (Joe mentioned the folder is still in Amsterdam)
    – you could distribute to coins to homeless people in Amsterdam and see, how they spread from there (even though noone is using 1 cent coins anymore).
    – use the coins to draw a line between the townhall and the police station to visualize their great lines of communication :)))

  3. Erikz on September 23rd, 2008 06:24

    Hey, couldn’t you place them back? Or has that been forbidden by the police?

  4. Design Work Life » Obsessions Make My Life Worse and My Work Better on September 23rd, 2008 09:02

    […] 2008 in Amsterdam. Unfortunately though, the piece was short-lived. Apparently the police swept up the entire artwork a few hours after its installation in an effort to prevent people from pocketing the coins. You can […]

  5. Art destroyed for safe keeping? « Word of the Turd on September 23rd, 2008 17:35

    […] better.” It took days to complete it, but it was only a mere 20 hours before it vanished, swept up by authorities who were afraid someone might steal some coins. The funny thing is, the creators expected some of […]

  6. Stefan Sagmeister-Artwork „busted“ by Cops | Nerdcore on September 23rd, 2008 13:39

    […] Stefan Sagmeister installation removed by Amsterdam Police (via WMMNAs Delicious) Tags: Art, Installation, Sagmeister […]

  7. rebel:art » Blog Archive » Stefan Sagmeister: Urban Play on September 23rd, 2008 17:24

    […] Fettecke in Amsterdam: Stefan Sagmeister und Helfer hatten für die Amsterdamer Ausstellung “Urban Play” aus 250.000 Ein-Eurocent-Münzen den Satz “Obsessions make my life worse and my work […]

  8. Rafael Alves on September 23rd, 2008 18:22

    best thing ever is how it ended! i can imagine one of the police officers having to deal with this bizarre situation and coming up with “Let’s move this art!”

    It was supposed to be stolen but the police made it safe by destroying it. This made the piece waaaaay better!!! Congratulations Dutch police!

  9. Daily Graffiti: Removed by Amsterdam Police · ALBOTAS on September 24th, 2008 08:01

    […] [Via ScottBurnham] […]

  10. eFutureTech » Blog Archive » Daily Graffiti: Removed by Amsterdam Police on September 24th, 2008 08:38

    […] [Via ScottBurnham] […]

  11. Martijn on September 24th, 2008 03:47

    Unexpected interaction was what the project was about, right? :)

  12. Obsessions make my life worse and my work better « Happenupon’s Weblog on September 24th, 2008 05:18

    […] It seems that the Amsterdam police were called by a resident of one of the overlooking buildings early Sunday morning to report that someone was “stealing an artwork”. As the story goes, people were pocketing a few of the coins, which was also expected, but things got a bit out of hand when a resident saw this happening. So the police responded, and, in a rather bizarre instance of police efficiency, they proceeded to “secure” the artwork, by sweeping up the entire installation.” Scott Burnham […]

  13. Sagmeister und We B-Girlz » Streetart Berlin Blog on September 24th, 2008 15:48

    […] Weitere Infos und Bilder gibt es bei rebelart oder […]

  14. paula rizzo ponto com » ExperimentaDesign é roubado pela polícia on September 26th, 2008 04:23

    […] Logo depois do ocorrido a polícia concordou em devolver as moedas. Burnham aceita sugestões do que fazer com elas em seu blog. […]

  15. falsch on September 26th, 2008 09:00

    a strange way of protection. a fence could have done the job too.

    but nice one from dtefan sagmeister!

  16. Sagmeister Inc.: Urban Play 2008 « morgenkaffee on September 27th, 2008 05:05

    […] worse and my work better”. more photos you can see here. and a funny story behind the event here. Verfasst von morgenkaffee Eingeordnet unter kunst ·Schlagworte: art, installation, […]

  17. Coins « It’s A Turn Based Living on September 29th, 2008 17:55

    […] (via scott burnham) […]

  18. Stefan Sagmeister installation removed by Police in Amsterdam | Love, Life, and Relationships Blog on October 1st, 2008 18:39

    […] Police in Amsterdam removed Sagmeister’s contribution to the ExperimentaDesign installation — a sentence made from 250,000 Euro cent coins — within 24 hours of it launching. Scott Burnham, creator and curator of the Urban Play project for Droog Design describes the events on his blog. […]

  19. The Mobile City » Blog Archive » Urban Play: designing the urban landscape on November 3rd, 2008 09:42

    […] by Stefan Sagmeister to form a birds-eye graffiti on the ground. Only hours after it was finished, the police came and scooped up all of the […]

  20. Tweets that mention Stefan Sagmeister installation removed by Amsterdam Police | SCOTT BURNHAM -- on August 10th, 2010 17:09

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Erickson, Mugizi Rwebangira. Mugizi Rwebangira said: RT @jefferickson: 8 days, €2500, and the truth: (Sad ending: […]

  21. Every pattern has a story to tell – part 1 « The ecology of knowledge on May 23rd, 2011 16:10

    […] Read the first hand anecdotal twist to this story on Scotts own website. […]

  22. I’m Feeling Lucky – The Story 3 « Simple Pleasures part 4 on February 18th, 2012 12:52

    […] the construction of a Stefan Sagmeister piece made up of 250,000 one cent pieces and its subsequent thoughtless destruction by dumb cops who were trying to protect the raw cash. His conclusion was that we’ll always have […]

  23. The Story 2012 | Rifa B on February 19th, 2012 13:21

    […] best story I heard all day was from Scott Burnham about this wonderful piece of street art made from pennies. (thanks to anjens for […]

  24. » The Story, Kat Sommers on February 19th, 2012 20:41

    […] by Scott Burnham, an ‘urban strategist’ and creative director who told the story of a Stefan Sagmeister installation in Amsterdam, and Karen Lubbock, publisher of the wonderful Karen magazine. I wrote barely any notes during […]

  25. Twelve stories high « Dean Vipond - Branding and Interaction Design on February 22nd, 2012 09:39

    […] work — a collaboration with Stefan Sagmeister involving 250,000 pennies — was actually removed by Amsterdam police, in under 24 hours, to stop it from being stolen! But as Burnham summed up, it’s the story […]

  26. What is a story? « One Size Fits One on February 23rd, 2012 06:18

    […] square. It was part of the story of the city for all of one night, when someone alerted the police and they took it all away. Each city tells its story with its buildings, its roads, its people, its food, its public spaces. […]

  27. Arte pública e o destino. on July 31st, 2012 14:16

    […] ler mais em […]

  28. – Obsessions – Kunst aus Geld on December 3rd, 2013 15:19

    […] zu. Die Polizei wurde von einem Anwohner gerufen und sie wollten die Münzen sichern und haben das Kunstwerk einfach weggefegt. Zum Glück geht durch das Internet nichts […]

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