Beds, Herts & Bucks

Milton Keynes art gallery in £8,000 cheque riddle

Milton Keynes Gallery
Image caption The gallery's director said claims of a hidden cheque came as a 'complete surprise'

A Milton Keynes artist who claims to have hidden a cheque for £8,000 in an art gallery has urged the public to "take care" while searching for it.

Tomas Georgeson hid the incomplete cheque in the Milton Keynes Gallery to help promote the town as a "cultural destination".

He said whoever discovers it can write the cheque out to themselves.

Gallery director Anthony Spira, said staff "knew nothing about it" but would "scour" the building looking for it.

Primarily a painter, Tomas Georgeson was the winner of the Derby Open competition in 2002 and exhibited his Portrait of my Father at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the 2011 BP Portrait Award.

'Proper care'

Mr Georgeson said he had "the greatest respect" for the gallery, its director and its exhibitions programme.

He said: "I should point out that I have not hidden the cheque on or around any of the artwork on display and the public should take proper care if they choose to look for the cheque.

"I hope that the personal risk I have taken in doing this can stand as something positive in a town eager to establish itself as a cultural destination.

"Milton Keynes began with a sense of bold, risk taking creativity and long may that continue."

'More visitors'

Mr Spira said the claim had come as a "complete surprise" and he had brought in extra staff to guard its displays.

He revealed there had "definitely been more visitors than normal" on Wednesday after the story appeared in the Daily Telegraph.

He said: "It's early days, they haven't been queuing around the block but there have been about 30 extra people in the first two hours and some have not been to the gallery before so that is fantastic.

"So far so good, nothing has been destroyed but we have had people rifling through our bookcases, looking for clever titles which might be hiding it."

If unclaimed, the cheque will be collected on 1 March.

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