Several weeks ago we reported on the establishment of the Westergaard Foundation. Shortly afterwards, the Foundation launched an initiative to sell signed prints of Kurt Westergaard’s “Free Speech” watercolor to raise money for the support of artists whose right to free expression was under threat.
Hans Erling Jensen created an excellent business model for selling the prints. He thoroughly understands viral marketing on the internet, and the involvement of prominent Counterjihad blogs in the effort would have provided significant international exposure and guaranteed a large volume of sales. Offering the bloggers a commission while they served a good cause assured their willing participation.
Unfortunately, Hans did not have the final say in how things would be done at the Foundation: that was up to the Board of Directors. Not long after the launch of the initiative, the Board had second thoughts, and shut the viral sales program down.
Henrik Ræder Clausen Europe News has written a brief explanation of what happened:
Goodbye to the Westergaard Foundation
by Henrik Ræder Clausen
It was with great fanfare that the Westergaard Foundation was announced on May 2nd, 2011. Unfortunately, significant internal trouble developed immediately afterwards. Here is a short roundup of what happened, and why the drawing is no longer available for sale at an international network of blogs, as was the original intention.
The concept was simple and attractive:
- Kurt Westergaard created an original watercolour painting entitled ”Free Speech”.
- Signed prints of the drawing could be purchased for €100 apiece, affordable for most everyone interested in supporting Free Speech.
- An international network of blogs would carry the banner and a PayPal link, so that the readers could easily order the print. A raw list of some 50 blogs was to be the initial network.
- The seller’s blog would receive a €30 commission for promotion of the Foundation.
- The remaining €70 (minus a small handling fee) would go into the Foundation.
- The Foundation, in turn, would use the funds to award prizes to artists in need of support due to what they have expressed, providing both publicity and money for the artist.
The press conference on May 2nd was well attended, with Hans Erling Jensen, Erik Guldager, Kurt Westergaard and Farshad Kholghi presenting the project. The presentation took place at Galleri Draupner in Skanderborg, Denmark, owned by Erik Guldager.
The same evening Erik Guldager and Kurt Westergaard presented the project on Danish national television, in four-minute segment displaying the painting and describing the project in a nutshell. The presentation was recorded and immediately translated into English by volunteers, to promote the Foundation internationally.
As a consequence of the television appearance, public interest soared. Unfortunately the web sites behind the project were not yet operational: The Galleri Draupner web site did not have the PayPal link up, the Westergaard Foundation web site was not online — and at the time of writing still isn't. As an emergency measure, to accommodate all the incoming orders, a redirect to Eticha, the home page of Hans Erling Jensen, was established. 198 prints were sold between May 2nd and May 5th, after which Hans Erling no longer had access to follow the sales stream.
In the week following the press conference, the following sites featured the banner and the PayPal link selling prints of the Free Speech painting on May 5th 2011:
- Politically Incorrect
- EuropeNews English
- EuropeNews German
- Vlad Tepes Blog
- International Civil Liberties Alliance
- Gates of Vienna
- Hodjanernes blog
Many other web sites had expressed their interest, but were awaiting further information or PayPal codes. It is worth noting that neither Galleri Draupner or the Westergaard Foundation web sites had the banner up, in spite of Galleri Draupner being the first to receive the necessary PayPal code after the account had been established on April 28th.
At a meeting on Friday, May 6th 2011, the board of the Westergaard Foundation (Erik Guldager, Kurt Westergaard and Peter Andersen) decided to change the strategy of the Foundation. Hans Erling Jensen, whom Erik Guldager had charged with organizing international sales, was not invited to the meeting. In a statement sent to Hans Erling Jensen, Erik Guldager stated that since, ostensibly, only 3-4 sales outlets had been established, that the original premises of the project had thus not been fulfilled, and for that reason a wholly new strategy had to be adopted by the board. Notably, no expectations for the number of sales outlets had been published in advance.
Under the new strategy, only Galleri Draupner is to have the Free Speech drawing up for sale, and all other sales outlets were to terminate immediately, and no later than Monday, May 9th 2011, after which any sales made would not be honoured. However, the sales outlets were not informed by Erik Guldager, who has made no public statement about the change of strategy, even after repeated requests by contributing volunteers that Erik should explain the changes publicly.
As for the sales already made: Due to the Westergaard Foundation and Draupner web sites not being ready at the time of launch, Eticha carried the bulk of the sales immediately after the May 2nd press conference. Hans Erling Jensen, owner of the Eticha web site, expects that the promise of a 30% share of the sales will be honoured by Erik Guldager, and states that all of this money will in turn be applied directly to an international forum promoting and defending Free Speech, in line with the original intention of the Westergaard Foundation.
If you have purchased a Free Speech print, we recommend that you:
1) Verify that it arrives in a timely manner. Orders are currently being honoured, all prints should be in the mail within a week. 2) Make sure the print arrives in good shape, as there have been some reports of suboptimal envelopes for the prints. 3) Follow the Westergaard Foundation web site to stay up to date on how the money generated by the sales is being applied. At the time of writing, at least 200 prints have been sold. Deducting the 30% share for the seller, this leaves € 14,000 in the Foundation. This would enable the Foundation to award decent prizes to relevant artists in the name of Free Speech.
During the preparations for the launch of the Westergaard Foundation, Erik Guldager received support and contributions from many volunteers, above all Hans Erling Jensen, but internal correspondence has made it clear that only Erik Guldager and the other two board members have the right to act on behalf of the Foundation. For this reason, any correspondence, questions and complaints should be directed to Erik Guldager of Galleri Draupner (email@example.com), as he is at the moment the only responsible representative and sales point of the Westergaard Foundation.
In sum, the initially announced international Kurt Westergaard Free Speech campaign is no more, and the banner has been taken down. We expect that Erik Guldager will document the number of sales, in particular those made from May 5th up until today, and pay out the promised 30% bonus to all blogs involved, including Eticha.dk.