“Art Is Anything You Can Get Away With” 

Unfortunately for Haaning, he didn’t quite get away with this.

This fine web publication previously highlighted the story of artist Jens Haaning, and his piece entitled “Take the Money and Run”. Commissioned to recreate some of his previous works that displayed real currency, Haaning instead kept the currency and returned empty frames. He stated that the theft was an act of performance art, providing the fantastic quote “the work of art is that I took their money”.

After two years in the Danish courts, however, Haaning has been ordered to return the money. Worth noting, however, Haaning is still being paid for his work.

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.”

It may not have been what they expected, but the museum displayed the work, so they have to pay for it. This attracted far, far more attention than the originally commissioned work would have, and likely more visitors as well. If the museum does indeed manage to recover the lost money (the artist is currently claiming he can’t afford to pay it back), they’ll really have come out ahead.