Artist appeals verdict over controversial artwork 'Take the Money and Run'

Written by Henrik Rothen

Sep.27 - 2023 10:05 AM CET

Artist appeals verdict over controversial artwork 'Take the Money and Run'.

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In the world of art, the line between creativity and legality can sometimes blur. Danish artist Jens Haaning found himself at the center of such a controversy with his artwork titled 'Take the Money and Run.'

The piece gained unexpected attention when Haaning decided to literally take the money that was supposed to be part of the artwork.

You can watch the artwork in the video below

The court's decision and appeal

Last week, a Copenhagen court ruled that Haaning must pay back nearly half a million Danish kroner ($70.800) to the Art Museum in Aalborg.

The money was initially loaned to him to create two artworks that were supposed to include cash in picture frames, representing the average annual income in Austria and Denmark. However, Haaning chose to keep the money and delivered empty frames instead. His lawyer, Peter Schønning, has announced that they are appealing the decision.

The Art Museum had asked Haaning to recreate two of his earlier works for an exhibition in the fall of 2021.

These original pieces involved real money framed to illustrate the average annual income in Austria and Denmark. The money for the original artworks was borrowed from banks and later returned, rendering the artworks non-existent. To recreate them, Haaning needed new cash, which the museum provided.

However, upon delivery, the frames were empty, and Haaning informed the museum that he had decided to submit a different piece titled 'Take the Money and Run.'

What's next?

As the appeal process begins, the art world and legal experts alike are keenly watching how this unique case unfolds.

It not only questions the boundaries of artistic expression but also puts the spotlight on the legal responsibilities artists have when involved in commissioned works.