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24-carat art project sparks gold rush on public beach in England

Digging for gold on public beach in Folkstone, England (courtesy 'Situations').

Digging for gold on public beach in Folkstone, England (courtesy 'Situations').

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If you go down to the beach at Folkestone, England today, you might find a pleasant surprise. German artist Michael Sailstorfer has buried 30 gold bullion bars beneath the sand there. And now it's finders, keepers.

"We've had hundreds of people down here today," producer Claire Doherty tells As it Happens from the beach. "It's rather like a massive archaeological dig." 

All day, the public has been scouring the beach for the buried pieces of gold, worth a total of nearly 20-thousand Canadian dollars. "There's been one or two little whoops of joy, and then someone's realised it's a little sweet wrapper or a little metal washer." 

Not everyone on the beach sees it this way, but Ms. Doherty, whose production company 'Situations' commissioned the work from the German artist, says the buried gold is all in the name of art.

"Artists are ultimately really great story tellers. And Michael really saw this as a new story for Folkstone. One in which people take part."

Ms. Doherty  says she expects the search to last for four days. 

"Ultimately, it's a permanent artwork because we'll never know whether all of the pieces of gold have been found." 

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