Futures & Commodities

There's gold in them beaches…and books

There's never been a better time to become a treasure hunter.

Hundreds of treasure hunters descended on the U.K's seaside town of Folkestone over the weekend in search of gold bullion which had been buried there as part of an art installation. Meanwhile, U.S. author James Frey has hidden $3 million in the precious metal around the world as part of the launch of a new series of his books.

German sculptor Michael Sailstorfer hid 30 24-carat gold bars on the beaches of Folkestone last week as part of the town's triennial arts festival. Punters have been encouraged to visit the public artwork and search for thirty gold bars, which differ in sizes. The bars totaled £10,000 ($16,600) at the time of purchase with the largest 20 gram nugget being worth £500.

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The "artwork" has sparked a mass treasure hunt with eager diggers arriving armed with shovels and metal detectors. The project, called Folkestone Digs, was commissioned by arts producers Situations but was financially backed by the arts festival itself.

The gold rush begins at the beach for Folkestone Triennial Public Art Project
Stuart C. Wilson | Getty Images

Situations told CNBC that there have been four confirmed findings so far but added that it was hard to assess fully with many successful treasure hunters leaving the beach without making their find public.

"Some people are keeping it to themselves," Rachel Kinchin, a communications manager for Situations told CNBC via telephone. "The adrenaline gets too much (after a find), they leave the beach with their legs shaking."

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One of the confirmed findings was by Kevin Wood, Kirsty Henderson and her sister Megan, according to the project producers. The trio found the 20 gram piece of gold on Friday evening and had traveled from the nearby town of Canterbury. They told organizers that they are now planning a trip to Paris with the cash from their hoard.

Stuart C. Wilson | Getty Images

Berlin-based Sailstorfer created the artwork to "expand the notion of classical sculpture", according to the Folkestone Triennial website, and is a continuation of his aim to "make art that comes less from the head and more from the stomach."

If any disappointed gold bugs live too far away from the U.K. town to take part, then a new series of books published by HarperCollins could ignite a similar rush for the precious metal.

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The Endgame trilogy of adventure stories, by author James Frey, will let readers solve puzzles, riddles and codes with prizes totaling $3 million on offer. First reported by the U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times, which has the same owner as HarperCollins, the first book in the trilogy book gives readers the chance to win $500,000 in gold coins and the book will be available in 27 countries.