Norwegian artist jailed for tax evasion

A Norwegian appeals court has sentenced one of the country’s best-known artists, Odd Nerdrum, to two and a half years in jail for tax evasion.

Norwegian artist jailed for tax evasion
Odd Nerdrum pictured at the start of his appeal hearing earlier this month (Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/Scanpix).

The Borgarting Court of Appeal found the artist guilty of selling paintings abroad for 14 million kroner ($2.3 million) in the period 1998-2002 without declaring any of the income he received to the Norwegian tax authorities.

Last August, Oslo District Court handed Nerdrum a two-year sentence, but the renowned figurative painter hoped to be cleared of the charges against him on appeal.

Instead, the appeals court on Wednesday lengthened his sentence in line with the wishes of the prosecution.

Nerdrum’s lawyer, Pål Berg, described the verdict as “completely insane”.

The case centred on a series of paintings Nerdrum sold through a gallery in the United States. The artist said collectors had complained that the paint he used on the pictures ran when exposed to heat, forcing him to give the buyers a five-year money-back guarantee in case there was any problem with their purchases.

The 68-year-old artist said he reached an agreement with the US gallery to place his earnings, cheques worth $900,000, in an Austrian safe deposit box. This meant the money would be available to return to any buyers unhappy with the quality of the paintings.

“I made an oral agreement about this. The money was to remain in the bank safe for five years before it would be sent to me as income for taxation,” Nerdrum told the court.

The prosecution did not believe this version of events, contending instead that Nerdrum stowed the money in Austria specifically to avoid paying any tax. 

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Norway digitally freezes national treasures and stores them in Arctic archive

Norway’s National Museum has preserved some of the country’s most treasured artefacts digitally and stored them in a former mine on Arctic archipelago Svalbard.

Norway digitally freezes national treasures and stores them in Arctic archive
Photo: Bartek Luks on Unsplash

The Arctic World Archive was originally constructed in 2017 to “protect the world’s most important cultural relics”, the National Museum said on its website.

The data preservation facility is located on the island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago, not far from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The National Museum has now placed its entire collection of around 400,000 items as digital copies on plastic film rolls, which are to be stored at the Longyearbyen site.

“The dry, cold and low-oxygen air gives optimal conditions for storing digital archives and the film rolls will have a lifetime of around 1,000 years in the archive,” the museum writes. Emissions emitted by the archive are low due to its low energy consumption.

Offline storage of the archives also insures them against cyber attacks, the museum said.

In addition to all data from the National Museum collection database, high-resolution digital images of works by selected artists are included in the archive.

Works to be stored include ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch, ‘Winter Night in the Mountains’ by Harald Sohlberg, the Baldishol Tapestry and Queen Maud’s ball dress.

“At the National Museum we have works from antiquity until today. We work with the same perspective on the future. The collection is not only ours, but also belongs to the generations after us,” National Museum director Karin Hindsbo said via the museum’s website.

“By storing a copy of the entire collection in the Arctic World Archive, we are making sure the art will be safe for many centuries,” Hindsbo added.

In addition to the Norwegian artefacts, organisations from 15 other countries are represented in the archive, including national museums in Mexico, Brazil and India; the Vatican library, Sweden’s Moderna Museet and Unicef.

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