By TIMON WOODWARD and ROBERTO VALUSSI
LONDON - Painter Tomas Georgeson has artfully tried to drum up attendance at a London gallery by hiding $12,500 - most of his life savings - among the paintings and other artworks for the taking if anyone can find it.
Georgeson has left the blank check for £8,000 ($12,600) in the Milton Keynes Gallery.
Georgeson told the Daily Telegraph that he hid the check in the gallery on Tuesday morning and, to get word out, he placed an ad in a newspaper flagging it to peoples' attention. The advert warns that the money "will be collected on 1 March 2013 if unclaimed."
The artist's aim is a creative way to "get people through the door and change the mood of the place." And he's willing to put nearly all his money on the line to do it.
"You can't just implant culture in a city and expect it to thrive," Georgeson says. "It seems it's the time for culture to come to Milton Keynes."
Georgeson did not let the gallery know that he had hidden the money. A representative from the gallery told ABC News, "He did not inform us at all. We got to know about it through a phone call from a Daily Telegraph journalist."
The spokeswoman said the money is well hidden.
"The Milton Keynes gallery is cube-shaped. It is not like an old building where you hide things into niches, or hidden corners. The staff searched thoroughly but we could not find it. There is currently a Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling upside down. We even looked through the branches of the tree, but we did not find any check," she said.
Georgeson assured people his offer is real.
"It won't bounce if somebody finds the check and cashes it. I'm prepared to live with the consequences of that happening, and I could only be prepared if I thought it would really do some good," he told the Telegraph.
The director of the gallery, Anthony Spira, spoke to him on Tuesday. Georgeson initially indicated he would go to the gallery today, but after not turning up Georgeson has cut off communication.