In 2021, the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art loaned conceptual artist Jens Haaning around $76,400 to remake two of his earlier works in which the cash was glued to canvas in a commentary on the difference between the average Danish and Austrian annual income. Instead, he delivered two new artworks—entirely blank canvases titled "Take the Money and Run." Now, a Copenhagen judge ordered that he must repay the money and legal fees. Problem is, Haaning says he already spent the dough.
The court's judgment deducted roughly $5,700 from the full loan amount to serve as Haaning's artist's fee and viewing fee, since the museum nonetheless exhibited the blank canvases in its "Work It Out" show.
The Kunsten Museum's curators appeared to fully understand Haaning's meaning.
"Haaning's new work Take the Money and Run is also a recognition that works of art, despite intentions to the contrary, are part of a capitalist system that values a work based on some arbitrary conditions," the museum says in its exhibition guide. "Even the missing money in the work has a monetary value when it is called art and thus shows how the value of money is an abstract quantity."