After the Sudden Heralding of Hilma af Klint, Questions and Court Fights

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In a lawsuit filed in April, Erik af Klint, the great-grandnephew of the artist and the Hilma af Klint Foundation’s chairman, said that business agreements have been struck without the approval of the foundation board and without his knowledge. The suit accuses board members of collaborating with its chief executive, Jessica Höglund, on deals to produce NFTs, books about af Klint and an immersive experience that would benefit them, not the foundation. The suit said they had waived licensing rights, causing the foundation to miss out on millions of dollars. The suit also asserts that publishing profits associated with af Klint have increased tenfold, from an estimated $350,000 in 2018 to $3.5 million in 2021, but that the revenue has gone to a foundation run by Almqvist, the scholar, rather than the Af Klint Foundation.

“They are trying to gain a profit from people’s search for inner meaning,” Erik af Klint said about the board members in an interview.

He said he hoped the courts would let him reshuffle the board and cancel contracts overseen by the chief executive, whom he has tried to dismiss. He added that he was worried about the commercialization of his relative’s art and the foundation’s finances: “We can manage for another year, but not much more.”

Höglund and the board have disputed the family’s assertions, saying the deals were correctly processed without requiring the family’s involvement and have recently brought $100,000 into the foundation. “As to my alleged dismissal,” Höglund said in a statement, “Erik af Klint has not been authorized to dismiss me.”

Three board members have resigned in response to the infighting with the family. One of them was Almqvist, who has defended the work done by the Ax:son Johnson Foundation, which has published several books on the artist and which he leads as chief executive.

Almqvist said that the copyrights to Hilma af Klint’s works held by the foundation expired in 2014, and that, contrary to the assertions in the suit, Ax:son Johnson had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in publishing profits to support the artist’s foundation so that it remains in good financial health.



POST AUTHOR: Zachary Small

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