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"Take the Money and Run": Artist Ordered to Pay Museum Back $77,000 for Blank Canvases

By: April Carson

In a bizarre turn of events that can only be described as a heist of artistic proportions, Danish artist Jens Haaning has lost a lengthy battle with the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, after submitting two blank canvases and making off with the loaned cash that was meant to be displayed within the artworks. The artist's audacious move, carried out under the provocative title 'Take the Money and Run,' has left the art world stunned and raised profound questions about the nature of art, value, and deception.

In 2021, Jens Haaning was entrusted with the equivalent of nearly $84,000 in Danish kroner and euro banknotes by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art. This substantial sum was intended to be used as part of an art installation, a conceptual piece that would push the boundaries of what art can be. However, what transpired was nothing short of a masterclass in artistic subversion.

The 'Take the Money and Run' exhibit, though physically blank, has left a lasting impression on the art world and the museum itself. Here, we explore this intriguing story through the lens of quotes and insights from museum workers who found themselves in the middle of this enigmatic controversy.

The Artistic Caper:

When asked about the initial idea behind the exhibit, museum director Lasse Andersson commented, "We were intrigued by Jens Haaning's proposal. It was audacious and challenging, a reflection on the ephemeral nature of art and the trust placed in artists." Indeed, the audacity of Haaning's proposal lay in its very simplicity: two blank canvases, stark in their emptiness, symbolizing both artistic freedom and the transience of value.

The Exhibition's Deceptive Allure:

Curator Anne-Marie Schjerning, who worked closely with Haaning on the project, explained, "The emptiness of the canvases was filled with anticipation and intrigue. Visitors were drawn to the exhibit, captivated by the idea of art being defined by absence rather than presence." The blank canvases served as a canvas for the audience's imagination, challenging traditional notions of art that hinge on skill and craftsmanship.

The Shocking Revelation:

The revelation that Haaning had pocketed the loaned cash, however, left the museum staff and art world reeling. It was a moment of reckoning. Schjerning recalls, "When we discovered the money was gone, it was both a betrayal and a testament to the power of Haaning's concept. He had indeed 'taken the money and run,' leaving us with the stark reality of art's ephemeral nature."

The Legal Battle:

In the aftermath of the artist's audacious move, the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art embarked on a lengthy legal battle to recover the lost funds. Haaning was ultimately ordered to repay around $70,600, the equivalent of the missing funds, along with another $11,000 in court fees. The ruling has sparked further debates about the relationship between artists, museums, and the boundaries of artistic expression.

Artistic Subversion or Scandal?

The 'Take the Money and Run' exhibit has left the art world divided. Some view it as a brilliant exploration of the transitory nature of art and value, while others see it as a scandalous breach of trust. Haaning's audacious move has forced us to question the boundaries of art, the role of museums, and the very essence of creativity.

In the words of Lasse Andersson, "Art has always been about pushing boundaries, challenging norms, and questioning the status quo. Jens Haaning's 'Take the Money and Run' has done just that, leaving us with a lasting debate about the nature of art and the value we place on it."

As the art world grapples with this extraordinary tale, 'Take the Money and Run' will undoubtedly be remembered as a pivotal moment in contemporary art history, prompting us all to take a closer look at the ever-evolving relationship between art, money, and the human imagination.

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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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