Odd Nerdrum, the Norwegian artist who’s been caught in a string of legal battles over the past few years, could finally claim a victory this week. A local court in Larvik has acquitted him of charges that he illegally broke a contract with three former partners of The Nerdrum Institute.
The institute was set up to handle international sales and marketing for Nerdrum, one of Norway’s most high-profile contemporary artists whose works have fetched high prices both at home and abroad. While he’s been successful as an artist, Nerdrum has run into trouble on the business side of his endeavours. The institute’s three art and business experts were supposed to help exhibit and sell Nerdrum’s art, so Nerdrum himself could concentrate on his art.
Instead Nerdrum dissolved their partnership only two years after it began and they sued him for breaking the contract, claiming NOK 23 million (USD 3.6 million) in compensation. The court case played out in Larvik earlier this month.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that not only did the court support Nerdrum’s defense but it declared that Nerdrum owes no compensation to his former partners and they must now pay Nerdrum NOK 500,000 to cover his court costs.
Judge Lars Marcus Evensen wrote in his decision that although the text of Nerdrum’s contract with Allis Helleland, Kjell Wenstad and Bjørn Li “could have been more clear and better formulated,” associated correspondence among the four and the contract itself indicated that they’d absolved themselves of the right to file economic claims against each other. The court also ruled that the agreement was subject to termination.
Nerdrum, age 70, still faces jail time on separate tax evasion charges after exhausting his appeals. He also has lost legal battles that he filed against state tax collectors. Nerdrum has often claimed he feels persecuted in Norway, and he went into self-imposed exile in Iceland for several years before returning to Norway. He recently has been living in France.