A Danish artist has been ordered to pay back a museum after he ran away with the money when commissioned to create a work of art. Instead, he submitted two blank canvases titled “Take the Money and Run.”
In 2021, Jens Haaning received Danish krone and euro banknotes worth almost $84,000 from the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg.
He has now been ordered to pay back around $70,600 and an additional $11,000 in court costs.
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People stand in front of an empty frame hung at the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, Denmark, on September 28, 2021. (Getty Images)
“I’m shocked, but at the same time it’s exactly what I imagined,” Haaning told Danish public broadcaster DR on Monday.
For its exhibition about working conditions and money, titled “Work It Out,” the museum commissioned Haaning to recreate two of his earlier works, which depicted banknotes mounted on a canvas that represented the average annual wage in Denmark and Austria. The museum not only loaned him the notes, but also paid him $3,900 for the work.
When the museum received the finished works of art, they were empty.
A woman stands in front of an empty frame hung in the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, Denmark. Artist Jens Haaning has been ordered to pay compensation to the museum for taking his money, not creating artwork and instead submitting blank canvases titled “Take the money and run.” (Getty Images)
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“The artwork is that I took the money,” Haaning told DR at the time. “I encourage others who have miserable working conditions like me to do the same. If you are asked to give money to go to work, then take the money and run.”
The museum said Haaning broke an agreement about how the money would be used. The artist denied the allegations.
“It’s not theft, it’s a breach of contract, and breaching a contract is part of the job,” he said at the time.