Odd Nerdrum was sentenced to two years in jail for tax evasion this week by a Norwegian court. The ruling shocked and surprised many in the art world. Many comments on the internet rather hopefully joked that Odd would while the two years away painting in his prison cell. This unfortunately will not be the case.
The Norwegian Justice Ministry rules do not allow prisoners to continue their business activities while in prison. Therefore, since Odd Nerdrum is a painter by profession, he will be not permitted to paint in jail. For other convicts who paint as a hobby, it is different, they are permitted to do so to pass the time.
The 67 year old Odd Nerdrum is appealing the conviction, however he faces a tough appeal, since the court ruling against him was so strong and made clear that the court didn’t believe Nerdrum’s explanation for millions in undeclared income. Legal analysts continued this week to marvel over how tough the ruling and Nerdrum’s sentence were, and his own defense attorney seemed to agree.
While Nerdrum lost the court case, he has won support and sympathy in artistic circles. Artist Edvard Munch also had long discussions with the tax authorities. But Nedrum’s prison term has been labeled “strict,” by many and several Norwegian art experts think there should be separate tax systems for business and cultural pursuits.