Norway’s Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal by Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum, who was convicted on tax evasion charges. That means the 70-year-old artist will need to serve his jail term of one year and eight months, with just eight months of his sentence suspended.
Nerdrum had fought long and hard to avoid going to jail, claiming it would ruin his artistic creativity. The rejection of his last-ditch appeal to Norway’s highest court means his conviction and jail sentence for failing to report NOK 7 million in income earned on art sales abroad remains standing and now takes effect. Nerdrum faces a year in prison.
His defense attorney John Christian Elden told news bureau NTB on Friday that he will still attempt to arrange for Nerdrum to serve his sentence outside an actual prison. Since the high court won’t evaluate Nerdrum’s appeal, Elden said, “we’ll just start the work to arrange for him serving his sentence outside prison.” Otherwise, Elden conceded, the case against Nerdrum on the tax charges has now been concluded.
Elden had argued vigorously for Nerdrum’s jail sentence to be suspended in its entirety, but failed to win the court’s leniency. Norway has a shortage of jail cells, however, and Nerdrum’s age may work in his favour. Nor does he pose a threat to society.
Nerdrum has spent much of the past few years in court battling a variety of legal challenges. In addition to his tax problems, Nerdrum has most recently been back in court in a conflict with former partners in the Nerdrum Institute.
He has all along presented himself as an outsider in Norwegian society and feels persecuted. “I think that to a high degree, Odd Nerdrum believes that all this is deeply unfair, and that it’s rooted in the society’s relation to him as an artist,” said Agnes Moxnes, commentator for state broadcaster NRK.