Stefan Sagmeister installation removed by Amsterdam Police

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?


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

  4. 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!

  5. Unexpected interaction was what the project was about, right? 🙂

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

    but nice one from dtefan sagmeister!

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