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Fancy a free Takashi Murakami work? Perrotin gallery launches art treasure hunt in Paris

French gallery is hiding 20 valuable works in the empty nave of the Grand Palais—and the public have 48 hours to find them and take them home

20 works by 20 artists—all represented by Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin—will be concealed in the empty nave of the Grand Palais in Paris Courtesy of Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin

Art buffs can take part in one of the most prestigious—and valuable—art treasure hunts next weekend with the launch of Wanted! at the Grand Palais in Paris. According to the instructions, “throughout the course of 48 hours (24-25 October), visitors are invited to search for 20 works by 20 artists [represented by Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin] which are concealed in the empty nave of the Grand Palais. The rules are simple: If you find a work in the Grand Palais, you will leave with the work.”

The Wanted! Art is Yours initiative, which is free of charge, is co-organised by the RMN-Grand Palais cultural body and Perrotin. Artists who have contributed include Elmgreen & Dragset, Takashi Murakami, and Emily Mae Smith. Each session will last 50 minutes maximum; coronavirus precautions will be put in place such as limiting capacity to 500 people per time slot and mandatory facial coverings.

“Do keep in mind that we only had 13 days to organise this. I am hugely grateful to my artists for their commitment and belief in this wild project. This is a rare moment. I love the idea of doing this as a gift to the city of Paris, as a moment of solidarity and joy,” Perrotin tells The Art Newspaper. The Grand Palais is due to close from next year for essential renovations; the art treasure hunt celebrates the historic site prior to closure.

Perrotin says: “Seven years ago, I visited the Grand Palais empty to consider the space for a project with [artist] Maurizio Cattelan. During this visit, I happened to ask how much it cost to rent the Grand Palais. Ever since, I have kept this idea in my mind.

“Finally I was able to do The Village with Elmgreen & Dragset in 2016. The artist duo [unveiled] an art fair booth in the empty nave one month before the opening of the Fiac [fair], a project in dialogue with the immensity of the Grand Palais, transforming the booth into a sculptural object. Wanted! is certainly in conversation with that project, and I was very happy that Elmgreen & Dragset agreed to participate in this iteration as well.”

Chris Dercon, the president of the RMN-Grand Palais, says in a statement: “I like to visit galleries and art fairs and these visits sometimes remind me of a treasure hunt. They are both physical and intellectual activities. Like many, however, works of art are usually not within my grasp, and I cannot have everything that I see. For this reason, I am even more so saddened by the cancellation of art fairs in 2020. However, here, it is the opposite. With Wanted!, the value of the work depends on the effort made by the visitors.”