Stealable Art Exhibition | “Thieves” Empty Walls at Tokyo Gallery

What would an artist choose to exhibit if they knew that the piece would be stolen? This was one of the questions at the heart of the Stealable Art Exhibition. The Japan Times reported that the exhibition was designed as an “experiment,” a new look at the relationship between creators and consumers.

Same Gallery in Tokyo had originally planned to hold the exhibition from July 10th to the 19th. During that time, the gallery would be open 24 hours a day with no security. The idea was that patrons could walk out with whatever they wanted. But as soon as the show officially opened, the gallery “was emptied in a matter of minutes,” says Hyperallergic. 

About 200 people arrived, and many walked out carrying valuable pieces of modern art by artists like Joji Nakamura and Merge Majurdan. Police officers were present but only for crowd control. 

Hyperallergic shared the following Instagram post showing the crowd waiting for the opening of the Stealable Art Exhibition to raid the gallery and the ransacked space:


View this post on Instagram


2020.07.10 #art #contemporaryart #exhibition #tokyo #samegallery #アート #現代アート #展示 #東京 #盗めるアート展

A post shared by 3️⃣4️⃣0️⃣ (@_fragile_gallery_) on

See more art news from RedDotBlog: 

Cover photo depicts an empty room, not Same Gallery

About the Author: Mara Blackwood

Mara Blackwood is the executive editor of RedDotBlog


  1. Another way to reduce the inventory would be to have the art (paintings) packed with only the medium and size being evident. with the different sizes at different, deeply discounted price points like all 11″X14″ oil painting at ?$150.00 all 12″X16″ at say $225.00 etc. The buyers would then just pick up a mystery painting for the price. Wonder if that would work?

  2. The world is full to the brim with selfish entitled people what else did they expect. did not need an experiment to know that relationship.

  3. Goes to show that most art lovers have little concern for the artist and the value of the work. They love the idea and concept of the need to want art but the artist’s relationship to the work is all but ignored. The Japanese are usually know as very polite however, did they even sign a guest log or even leave a “Domo Arigato!”

  4. This was really disturbing for me to watch. I really believe there is an energy between an artistic piece (anything really), when there has been an exchange for it. Money can be one thing, help, work, or any agreement of some sort where there is an exchange for something else. I think it balances the energy between both parties and it becomes a very positive and happy transaction. In this case when I saw people lined up to just take something, all I could think of was the negative energy surrounding it, because it was taken by someone who had no thought of giving back.

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