When Danish artist Jens Haaning turned in two blank canvasses to a museum which had commissioned his artwork, he thought he’d played a blinder.
The Kunsten Museum in Aalborg had given the 58-year-old around £62,000 in banknotes intending for him to embed them into his two pieces of art.
But the 58-year-old instead named his empty project ‘Take the Money and Run’, and said it was intended to be a statement on salaries in Denmark and Austria.
The contemporary artist told dr.dk at the time in 2021: ‘The work is that I have taken their money.’
Museum director Lasse Andersson said he ‘laughed out loud’ when he first saw the works, and decided to display them anyway.
He told the BBC’s Newsday programme: ‘He stirred up my curatorial staff and he also stirred me up a bit, but I also had a laugh because it was really humoristic.’
But following a long legal battle, a court in Copenhagen has now ordered Mr Haaning to return most of the cash.
He was initially given around 534,000 Danish Krone (just under £62,000) and the museum asked for it all back.
But Mr Haaning refused and a court has now ruled he must refund the museum 492,549 Krone (£57,000) once his artist’s fee and mounting costs are taken off to cover his expenses.
Mr Haaning told dr.dk after the ruling that he did not plan to contest the case.
‘It has been good for my work, but it also puts me in an unmanageable situation where I don’t really know what to do,’ he added.
He claimed the museum had made ‘much, much more’ money than it initially invested due to the publicity around the controversy.
Mr Haaning isn’t the only person to ‘take the money and run’ recently – one worker in Chile was accidentally paid 300 times his salary and then vanished.
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