We love to squawk whenever some ridiculous piece of modern art or pixelated NFT sells for a ridiculous sum that this is just another obvious symptom of the asset bubble blown by the global monetary gusher (either that, or somebody's trying to launder $60MM and spotted a cost-effective opportunity to do so).
But this latest example of art-world excess is heavy on the meta-commentary. It's also extremely Scandinavian.
Here's what happened: Danish artist Jens Haaning was given $84K by a museum - the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark - and promised to use the money to create a work of art that would be featured as part of an exhibit. After receiving the money - $84K in US dollars - Haaning emailed the exhibit's curator, saying he had changed his mind about the project, and had changed the title to "Take the Money and Run". He then delivered the project - but kept the cash, which was supposed to be used as part of the project (the new piece was supposed to be part of a series where the artist used actual euros to depict the average annual income of different European countries).
"Take the money and Run"
The Museum says it will wait to see if the artist returns the money by Jan 16 as he is contractually obligated to do. If he doesn't, the museum's director told CBS News that "we will of course take the necessary steps to ensure that Jens Haaning complies with his contract."
But in the mean time, the museum is trying to spin the incident as a kind of double-win (although there's no guarantee that they will get the money back).
Here's more from CBS News:
Indeed, the frames meant to be filled with cash were empty.
"The staff was very surprised when they opened the crates. I was abroad when the crates were opened, but suddenly received a lot of mails," Andersson said.
When he finally saw "Take the Money and Run," Andersson said he actually laughed. "Jens is known for his conceptual and activistic art with a humoristic touch. And he gave us that – but also a bit of a wake up call as everyone know wonders were did the money go," he said.
According to Haaning's press release, "the idea behind was to show how salaries can be used to measure the value of work and to show national differences within the European Union. But by changing the title of the work to "Take the Money and Run" Haaning "questions artists' rights and their working conditions in order to establish more equitable norms within the art industry."
"Everyone would like to have more money and, in our society, work industries are valued differently," Haaning said in a statement. "The artwork is essentially about the working conditions of artists. It is a statement saying that we also have the responsibility of questioning the structures that we are part of.
And if these structures are completely unreasonable, we must break with them. It can be your marriage, your work - it can be any type of societal structure".
While the artist technically violated the spirit of the deal, he does contractually have until Jan. 16 to deliver on the project - or return the money.
"...while it wasn't what they had agreed on in the contract, the museum got new and interesting art. "When it comes to the amount of $84,000, he hasn't broke any contract yet as the initial contract says we will have the money back on January 16th 2022."
Now, as for whether the artist will return the money, we're curious as to whether maybe there might be a "Part II" to the this exhibit involving the spending of $84K in US dollars.
They should probably check all the strip clubs near the guy's house.