Feedback
News

Chinese Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Can Now Buy All the Lego He Wants

Lego has changed its policy on bulk sales of the toy bricks following global backlash when it refused an order from Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

Ai tried to buy a large quantity of Lego in June last year for a planned art exhibition about free speech in Melbourne, Australia.

The company declined his order, saying that it was "against our corporate policy to indicate our approval of any unaffiliated activities outside the Lego licensing program."

Ai called the move an act of "censorship and discrimination" and asked for collection points to be set up so he could amass the amount of Lego needed for his exhibit.

This sparked a global campaign with 18 collection points set up in galleries and museums from Berlin to New York, and from San Francisco to New Zealand.

On Tuesday, Lego relented. A statement on its website said its policy of asking about the nature of projects using mass orders "could result in misunderstandings or be perceived as inconsistent."

Related: China's Treatment of Me Gave Son Nightmares, Ai Weiwei Says

While it did not mention Ai by name, it said that Lego "no longer asks for the thematic purpose when selling large quantities," and that customers intending to display bricks in public would be asked to make it clear that "that the LEGO Group does not support or endorse the specific projects."

The artist responded by posting pictures on social media showing him with Lego bricks clipped into his beard.

Ai, one of China's most vocal critics, suggested Lego's initial denial may have been motivated by politics. He pointed out that Legoland — part-owned by the toy firm's majority shareholder — plans to open a theme park in Shanghai.

Lego spokeswoman Katherine Bisgaard Vase denied Ai's allegation, saying in an email to NBC News that the firm's "previous guidelines were not ... due to any specific activity or interest in any given market."