Controversy Follows Conviction of Artist Odd Nerdrum for Alleged Tax Fraud
by Richard Thomas Scott
The Norwegian artist, Odd Nerdrum, was sentenced to two years in prison without bail on Wednesday August 17th, when a local court in Oslo found him guilty for tax evasion. Critics claim that Nerdrum’s sentence was surprisingly more severe than the punishment recently imposed in a similar case in China concerning the artist Ai Weiwei, who was given a fine and released on house arrest after three months of detainment.
Nerdrum has plead not guilty and will file an appeal.
Famous for his Old master-like paintings, the 67 year old artist was accused of failing to pay the full amount of taxes on $2.6 million (1.8 million euros) of taxable income from sales between 1998-2002, just before he became an Icelandic citizen.
Hearing the verdict, Nerdrum‘s Lawyer Tor Erling Staff told the NTB news agency "I have rarely read such a verdict that allows so little room for doubt. The essential elements [of the case] were not taken into account and we are really not happy. We will appeal.”
"Nerdrum has been found guilty of aggravated fiscal fraud," ruled the Oslo district court, defining the crime as aggravated because the artist "put significant work into hiding his assets, especially by placing a large quantity of money in a safety deposit box."
Though the problem with these damaged paintings was well known in the U.S. and had damaged Nerdrum‘s reputation, the prosecution asserted that it was merely an elaborate ruse. The court ruled “the only reason for placing cash in a bank box in Austria was to avoid this income being taxed in Norway”.
Nerdrum, who has the neurological disease tourettes syndrome, stated at the beginning of the case that the charges were “rubbish” and that he was “not good with numbers”. This is why he left the accounting to his tax accountant. He said that the 9 year tax investigation and trial were intended to drive him toward suicide.