Ai Weiwei stands with his sculpture 'Straight' as he previews works from his landmark art exhibition in London on Sept. 15, 2015.
Alex B. Huckle—Getty Images
By Tessa Berenson
April 29, 2016

Toy company Lego said Thursday it was a mistake not to sell their bricks to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei for an exhibit last year.

The order was rejected “very low in the organization by our consumer service department,” Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, Lego’s vice chairman, told The Wall Street Journal.

“It was an internal mistake,’’ he continued. “It is a typical example of what can go wrong in a big company.”

In October, Ai sparked an outcry when he posted an Instagram photo saying that Lego had refused his bulk order of bricks for an upcoming installation. At the time, Lego said it “cannot approve the use of Legos for political works,” according to another Instagram post by Ai that was taken down.

Ai welcomed Lego’s new statement, according to WSJ, but lamented how long it had taken for them to respond. “I think it’s positive but I think they recognized it a bit too late,” he said. “I have to respond to this incident because it is about freedom of expression. The Lego company has such a strong influence on every child so I think it’s not an issue to be ignored.”

Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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