OK-to-steal art exhibition’s guests/thieves attract lots of attention.

Last month Tokyo’s Same Gallery announced a pretty clever idea. On July 10, the venue would host the Stealable Art Exhibition, where guest/thieves were allowed to take any piece of art on display home with them (limit one item per person).

“I hope this will become an occasion for people to add some art to their lives, and develop a deeper interest in it,” said organizer Tota Hasegawa. 10 artists agreed to have their works displayed/stolen, and Same said the exhibition would open at midnight and close whenever all the art had been stolen…which ended up happening before the event was even scheduled to begin.

Despite Same being located in a relatively quiet residential part of Tokyo’s Ebara neighborhood in Shinagawa Ward, a massive number of people gathered ahead of the start time. While the crowd was, by all accounts, well-behaved, its sudden late-night formation was enough of a concern to local residents that someone called the real-life cops to come out and handle pretend-thief crowd control by 11:30.

▼ Same Gallery, with its first-floor lights on, is visible in the background here.

With so many people already on the street, the event organizers decided to start early, and while it’s likely the concept of the Stealable Art Exhibition had people imagining the sly capers of Lupin III, the Cat’s Eye sisters, or various other honorable heist architects of Japanese animation…

…the reality was closer to the start of a Black Friday Sale in America, or the opening of a Costco in China, and by 11:40, 20 minutes before the exhibition had been scheduled to start, the entire gallery had been picked clean and the crowd was asked to go home.

▼ “All gone. Thank you for coming,” wrote Same Gallery in a post-theft post on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

all gone ご来場ありがとうございました。

A post shared by same (@same_gallery) on

Following the event, Hasegawa expressed regret at not doing a better job informing locals of what the gallery had planned, and also for being unprepared for the number of people it attracted. On the other hand, that’s a whole lot of people out at an art exhibit on a Thursday night, so it’s hard to call the Stealable Art Exhibition a failure.

Related: Same Gallery
Sources: Mainichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko, Yahoo! Japan News/Huffington Post via Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso
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