The chair, fashioned from a mannequin of a black woman bound up with bondage equipment, is clearly designed to upset people, but it required the bottom of Dasha Zhukova, a prominent art expert and socialite, to spark an internet outcry.
The Russian fashion site Buro 24/7, which published the photos on Monday to illustrate an interview with Zhukova, quickly cropped away the chair as criticism mounted.
"I personally would like to express our sincerest apology to anyone who we have offended or hurt," Miroslava Duma, the Moscow socialite who runs the site, wrote. "It was ABSOLUTELY not our intention. We are against racism or gender inequality or anything which infringes on anybody's rights. We love everybody."
Zhukova also conceded that the picture was "regrettable".
"This photograph, which has been published completely out of context, is of an art work intended specifically as a commentary on gender and racial politics. I utterly abhor racism, and would like to apologise to anyone who has been offended by this image."
Zhukova explained that the work was "one of a series that reinterprets art historical works from artist Allen Jones".
Melgaard, who is based in New York, could not be reached by Norwegian media for comment yesterday.
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But the artist, described by the New York Times as the "projectile vomiter" of the art world, is no stranger to controversy.
The 47-year-old has used photographs of half-naked boys intended for pedophiles in his art, and argues he has no ethical responsibility for what his art displays.