Artist Odd Nerdrum sentenced to jail

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Odd Nerdrum, one of Norway’s most famous and controversial artists, was sentenced to two years in prison on Wednesday after a local court in Oslo found him guilty of tax evasion. Nerdrum has earlier denied his guilt, and his defense attorney filed a quick appeal.

Artist Odd Nerdrum boycotts photographers but has released this image of one of his paintings. PHOTO: Nerdrum Institute

The court’s prison sentence matched what state prosecutors had sought after mounting their case that Nerdrum had failed to declare around NOK 14 million in taxable income from the sale of paintings between 1998 and 2002. Nerdrum was also ordered to pay court costs of NOK 10,000.

The 67-year-old artist, who boycotts Norwegian media and won’t allow his photograph to be taken or used, was not present when his sentence was handed down. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that he was with assistants and students at the Louvre in Paris when he got the message that he’d been found guilty of criminal tax evasion.

Both Nerdrum and his defense attorney, Tor Erling Staff, have claimed that money found by Norwegian tax authorities in an overseas bank account, along with check proceeds from a US gallery, had been set aside to cover possible compensation claims by customers whose Nerdrum paintings had been ruined after the artist used a incorrect blend of materials. Nerdrum also claimed he had paid taxes to Iceland, where he moved after going into a highly public self-imposed exile from Norway round 10 years ago.

The court, however, ruled that it was convinced “that the only reason for placing cash in a bank box in Austria was to avoid this income being taxed in Norway.” Prosecutors have claimed that Nerdrum went to great lengths to hide money he had earned, as well as traces of it. The court stressed, though, that Nerdrum has since paid the taxes owed.

The court also noted that the amount of money in question was quite large, however, prompting a professor at the University of Oslo to say that he wasn’t surprised the jail term was relatively stiff. “It doesn’t matter that he’s a well-known artist,” Professor Frederik Zimmer told aftenposten.no.

Nerdrum, who called the charges against him “rubbish,” has maintained that the Norwegian state “wants to take my life” and that he’s been demonized. He said in court that he thinks the tax evasion charges were a means of pushing him towards suicide.

The court took into consideration that Nerdrum suffers from Tourettes syndrome, but still believed that the artist had a “conscious attitude” towards the income his art generates.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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  • Luvbeeny

    So he has since paid the owed taxes, but still faces 2 years in jail. Meanwhile, the guy that guns down 77 people gets only 21.

    • Erik

      Breivik only gets 21 initially because that’s the maximum _immediate_ sentence in Norway; afterwards the court will reconvene and decide whether Breivik is still a threat to society. If the court thinks he is, they can extend his sentence.

  • GB

    Too bad. I hope they keep his cell stocked with the best art supplies possible. The guy is a modern master.

    • http://profiles.google.com/peterwassink peter wassink

      Thats the really cruel part of this questionable case. The man is not allowed to paint or even sketch in jail because that would mean he is continuing his “business” which is not allowed according to Norwegian law. Whereas murderers can paint as much as they like
      I cant imagine a more cruel punishment.
      Norway is really showing their ugly narrow-minded side to the world

  • Sarahfin

    Sounds like a debtor’s prison sentence to me…didn’t we abolish such things?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1643891164 Daniel Mirante

    A disgusting action against a national and historical art treasure over some stupid civil matter, what is Norway playing at?

    • http://www.facebook.com/joegiordano.artist Joe Giordano

      Typical government v artist aggression.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Meseretu-Wondie/100001321534123 Meseretu Wondie

    Odd Nerdrum is like a beautiful flower grow in Norway,that gives a pleasure for the rest of the world.Shem on you the Norwegian government attacking and harassing this ammaizing and talentfull genius artist .You showd be rather be proud fo him .
    Meseretu Wondie
    USA

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Felicia-BelairRigdon/100002317183607 Felicia BelairRigdon

    Disgusting- Odd we want U to move here- US- not so high taxes : YET

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CBTBHJ3QOLK4WFPWDN5TUSN7AU Miguel

    I had the impression that Sweden had a more civilized and sensible government system. This is a brutal act of infamy. I am against this policy! Odd Nerdrum should be allowed to continue with his creative process while he spends his days in prison. He should be commissioned for special projects and get paid like anyone else.
    Miguel Conesa Osuna, Visual Artist

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DGJG5TPQYWY5AVUWW6M56CNK64 jim

    I think they should lock him up in a lush mansion studio with all the amenities and a wonderful view, and with what ever his heart, body and mind desires, and forces him to paint the most wonderful paintings his brain and create and these paints will go on display around the world available for all to see.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cozinha.dapintura Cozinha da Pintura

    This is an OUTRAGE. Clearly, a wicth hunt. And how about the stupid law against the artist painting while in jail? The french government should support Nerdrum and give him political protection by all means. Im boycotting anything related to Norway. Products, services, and tourism.

    Same happened to Munch. Is this coincidence? I dont think so.

  • ProfessorPBZ

    God does not favor people who harass those to which HE grants great gifts. Those who dream-pt up this fraudulent evil may find themselves in a far worse pickle than their intended victim..

    God Bless Nerdum!

    And for years I held Norway as a nation of heroe’s and peop[le of justice, as during their great rebellion against Nazis in WW II, was praised by President FDR, in his speech, he spoke words giving solace to those attacked by US Nazi’s, “LOOK TO NORWAY…!” (For hope and courage).