Artist Odd Nerdrum fights back

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UPDATED: Norway’s most famous contemporary artist, Odd Nerdrum, was back in an Oslo courtroom on Monday, armed with new documentation in a case that he has brought against Norwegian tax authorities. 

Odd Nerdrum told Norwegian talk show host Fredrik Skavlan that the Norwegian authorities have been after him since he was 20 years old. Now he’s fighting back, aided by newspaper “Dagbladet.” PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

The documentation was dug up by newspaper Dagbladet, which claims it wasn’t included in the state’s own tax evasion case against the artist earlier this year. Nerdrum was convicted by both the Oslo City Court and an appeals court, and sentenced to two years and 10 months in jail.

Nerdrum’s lawyer, Pål Berg, claims the new documentation “just supports what Nerdrum has clarified all along, and which the court didn’t believe.” The new documents, including bank account statements, the artist’s own tax files, overviews of his income, faxes and e-mail.

Nerdrum himself hopes the documentation will clear his name. In the meantime, he also has appealed his conviction and pending jail term to Norway’s Supreme Court, which decided to hear it.

The appeals court convicted Nerdrum of selling paintings for nearly NOK 14 million abroad during the years 1998-2002, without declaring the income in Norway. Nerdrum, however, has consistently denied the tax evasion allegations and believes he’s been wrongly accused and convicted.

The case beginning Monday back in the Oslo City Court is a civil case filed by Nerdrum against the regional tax authority Skatt øst, because he believes his taxes were incorrectly calculated for the years 1998-2002. Nerdrum has paid the back taxes claimed, but believes the claim was wrong.

The court set aside three days to hear the case. An attorney for the tax authority, however, believes the time frame must be expanded because of testimony needed from Nerdrum and witnesses on both sides.

If Nerdrum wins the case, but the Supreme Court rules against him, Berg said Nerdrum will then file for a special state commission to review his conviction. He’s not giving up efforts to clear his name. Police investigators have already said they will evaluate the new documentation in the tax case.

“I’m in a terrible situation,” Nerdrum told newspaper Dagbladet last week after agreeing to a rare interview. “When you’re sentenced to prison, you should know that you’ve done something wrong, but I haven’t done that. I have paid all the tax I owe.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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