lego.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Lego Photo mureut, used under CC BY-ND

The owners of Danish toy company Lego said it had been a "mistake" to deny bulk sales of its classic plastic building blocks to Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei, a news report said Thursday.

The company drew criticism in October for declining to sell bricks to the dissident artist since he was intending to use them for "political works." As of January 1, Lego said it "no longer asks for the thematic purpose when selling large quantities of Lego bricks for projects."

The rejection of the artist's request was made “very low in the organization by our consumer service department,” Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the head of the family-owned company, told The Wall Street Journal.

The Lego board was not involved in the decision, which he labelled "an internal mistake."

"It is a typical example of what can go wrong in a big company,” said Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, deputy chairman and son of Kjeld, in an interview with the financial daily.

The Wall Street Journal said the father and son were interviewed earlier this week at Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen's office in Baar, Switzerland.

Ai Weiwei wsa able to use donated bricks to complete his project to create portraits of 20 Australian civil rights activists for an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen handed over the position of deputy chairman of the Lego board to his son on Wednesday in a move that was part of a generational transition in the board of the company, Lego said. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is to remain on the board.

"I look forward to taking on a greater responsibility on behalf of the fourth generation of my family," Thomas Kirk Kristiansen said in a statement.

The 37-year-old joined the Lego Group board in 2007 and has since worked closely with his father and Lego Group chief executive Jorgen Vig Knudstorp.  

The firm was founded in 1932 and is one of the world's leading toymakers.

In 1958, the father of Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, 68, patented the plastic building blocks that can be assembled to make cars, planes, little cities, spaceships and other designs.

Thomas Kirk Kristiansen will also become chairman of the Lego Foundation, with his father becoming deputy chairman.

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is to remain chair of the family's holding and investment company Kirkbi A/S, which owns 75 per cent of the Lego Group.

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