Artist kept $84k loan from museum; called blank frames art

DENMARK — A museum in Denmark lent an artist $84,000 for an exhibition - and he took the money and ran, according to CNN.

Artist Jens Haaning previously used framed cash to make artwork representing the average annual salaries of an Austrian and a Dane.

The latest exhibition was to be a recreation of these works, but the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg got quite the surprise when the new pieces were delivered.

Gallery staff soon discovered the frames were completely empty, CNN reported.

Haaning said he decided to keep the loaned cash for himself - in the name of art.

In emails now displayed next to the empty frames, Haaning said the “new” conceptual piece, appropriately titled “Take the Money and Run,” is a response ”to both your exhibition concept and the works that we had originally planned to show,” CNN reported.

The exhibition is now at the center of a dispute between the artist and the museum over labor, contractual obligations and the value of work.

Haaning told a CNN reporter he doesn’t think he stole the money, but rather created an art piece even better than the one originally planned.

Apart from the $84,000 the museum lent Haaning for the work, it also had agreed to pay an additional $1,571, as well as covering costs like framing and delivery.

He told CNN the money still would not have covered staff salaries and studio costs.

Haaning said he has no plans to return the money and is “not worried” about possible consequences, according to CNN.

The art exhibition ends in January, when the museum will then consider legal action.