October 9, 2011

Post from Norway: Odd Nerdrum's Accounting and His Tax Problems (Part I)

by Therese Veier

This post could be subtitled "Don't mess with the IRS -- the Norwegian IRS in this case".

On the 17th of August the Norwegian artist and painter Odd Nerdrum was sentenced to two years in prison by the district court in Oslo. The artist was found guilty of consciously having tried to conceal his total income in order to evade taxes. In addition to the prison sentence, the artist will probably not be allowed to paint during his two years of imprisonment. According to the court, Nerdrum has sold paintings for 10,5 million NOK in the period 1998-2002 without reporting this income to the IRS. The income Nerdrum reported to the IRS in 2009 was 2,2 million NOK. The artist is listed with a fortune of 10,3 million NOK. The artist has also been condemned to pay the legal fees. Before the court case started, the artist had paid his outstanding tax amount and settled his debt with the IRS. The amount was not disputed by the artist during the trail.

Nedrum’s defense lawyer, Tor Erling Staff, told the Norwegian paper Aftenposten that the verdict will be appealed immediately because it has been carried out a selective choice of information in the case and that not all issues have been discussed.
My impression is that the district court thinks Nerdrum lacks credibility and instead must prove his innocence, says Staff.
Nerdrum is furious with the court because a prison sentence means he will loose his American visa.
Two years in prison and I lose my visa to the United States. Now I cannot be a guest teacher at Maryland Institute College of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art or New York Academy of Art, says Nerdrum.
The artist states to the press that it feels like the Norwegian government is executing a vendetta against him.

Awaiting his appeal the artist is now hiding from the press in his castle, situated in Maisons-Lafitte, a fashionable suburb outside Paris. The estate is registered to his wife, and was recently purchased by her company. It is intended to be used as a family house, with ample room for Nerdrum’s pupils.

About the district courts verdict - the court claims that it had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nerdrum had devoted considerable effort to hide the total sum of his income from Norwegian authorities. It is especially aggravating that the profit from this income has been hidden in such a way that the risk of discovery has been very small.



This story will be continued in tomorrow's post.

Therese Veier previously contributed to the ARCA blog on the subject of Edvard Munch.