Monday, December 06, 2010


In May last year we posted on a wacky sculpture by Jim Sanborn sited in the grounds of CIA’s HQ in Langley. For 20 years Sanborn has patiently waited for ace code crackers to reveal the secret message he cut into the sculpture’s metal sheet. (If you want to see how much a sculpture can exercise minds try working your way through this Kryptos sculpture fan site). Ok, the crackers have worked out three of the puzzles but the forth has eluded even the best of them although they keep trying. 

Indeed Sanborn got so exasperated by the many, many ‘er-if-you-could-give-me-just-a-small clue’ cracker calls he set up a website to field enquiries (a popular CIA phrase). Don’t drop everything and rush over there though because to gain entry you have to enter the first 10 letters you have already decoded of the 97 letter puzzle. Only then will Sanborn even look at your question.

If all this makes you think Jim Sanborn is the worst kind of sculptor grump, think again. In the pages of last Saturday’s New York Times he generously revealed six letters from the sculpture’s final passage. The 64th through to 69th characters in the final series on the sculpture read NYPVTT. When deciphered, they read BERLIN. So that makes it a lot easier.