Jens Haaning, a conceptual artist whose work focuses on power and inequality, was commissioned in 2021 by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, northern Denmark, to reproduce two works in which a large number of banknotes were used to represent the average income.

Haaning's 2007 work, Average Danish Annual Income, displayed crown banknotes fixed to the canvas in a frame, and a second work about Austrian incomes in 2011 used euro banknotes.


The museum provided about 532 thousand crowns (1 million 775 thousand TL) from its reserves to recreate the artworks, plus a fee of about 40 thousand crowns for an artist.

But when staff unpacked the newly delivered artworks, they found two empty frames with the caption "take the money and run".

The museum displayed the new artworks, but when Haaning refused to return the money, it took legal action.


On Monday, a court in Copenhagen ordered the artist to repay the money lent to him, but said he should still be paid.

Lasse Andersson, director of the Kunsten Museum at the time, said: "We are not a rich museum. ... We have to think carefully about how we spend our funds and not spend more than we can afford."

Haaning told Danish radio at the time:

"The thing is, I took their money, it's not theft. It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the job. I encourage other people who have working conditions as bad as mine to do the same. If they have a bad job and they don't get paid and they are really asked to pay to go to work, then do what you can and get over it."