On Monday 18 September, a judgment was rendered in the case at the Copenhagen City Court between Jens Haaning and the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art.
- We now have a ruling that we at the Kunsten and artist Jens Haaning can consider. We will now carefully examine it. There is a four-week period for appeal, and as long as the case can still be appealed, we have no further comments, says Lasse Andersson, director of the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art.
The exhibition Work it Out opened at Kunsten Museum of Modern Aalborg in 2021. As part of the exhibition, the museum wished to feature two existing works by the artist Jens Haaning: An Average Austrian Annual Income (2007) and An Average Danish Annual Income, which had originally been exhibited at Heart in Herning in 2010.
For the new exhibition at Kunsten, the annual income was updated to the 2021 rate, so the two works featured framed banknotes with a total value of DKK 532,549.
Kunsten transferred the necessary funds to the artist’s personal bank account, having entered into a contract with Jens Haaning stipulating that he would return the money to Kunsten when the exhibition closed on 16 January 2022.
Just prior to the opening of the exhibition, Kunsten received an email from Jens Haaning, informing the museum that, instead of the work agreed upon, he had created a new piece entitled Take the Money and Run. Museum staff then opened the transport crates only to discover that the picture frames, which should have contained the money, were empty.
The new work was presented as part of Work It Out alongside other works by renowned contemporary artists.
When the exhibition was over, Jens Haaning did not pay back the money, thereby breaching the contract he had signed. Accordingly, Kunsten brought a civil lawsuit against him.
The work itself – excluding the money – belongs to Jens Haaning, and the artist is represented by Sabsay Gallery Copenhagen. The work is not the property of Kunsten; it is a deposit.