Brancusi sculpture campaign failure comes to haunt Romanian PM before elections
The United Romania Party (PRU), a relatively new political party that promotes a nationalistic discourse, has filed a complaint against Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos at the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).
PRU leaders accused Ciolos of abuse of power and deceipt for the way he and his cabinet handled the public fundraising campaign for famous Romanian scultptor Constantin Brancusi's Cumintenia Pamantului (Wisdom of the Earth) statue.
They claim that the price the Government agreed to pay for the statue, namely EUR 11 million, is way to high. Almost EUR 10 million of the statue's price will come from the state budget, after a public campaign that aimed to raise EUR 6 million for this purchase failed, gathering only EUR 1.3 million from private donations.
“The Prime Minister started a new program for Romania, namely the acquisition of artworks at prices inflated 10 times. We know that there were some evaluations made by experts that first said EUR 800,000, then 1.2 million, two million, three million, and the last evaluation was five million. The Ciolos Government has spent EUR 11 million from the Romanians’ money for a work of art that was part of the national heritage anyway, and couldn’t have been taken out of the country,” said PRU president Bogdan Diaconu.
Controversial MP Sebastian Ghita, a member of PRU, who has accompanied Diaconu to DNA for the denunciation, said that he hoped that the prosecutors would show that they are fair and unbiased, and would start an investigation in this case. Ghita himself is targeted by several DNA investigations.
“I have precise information that this work of art had some evolutions, and the notes the Romanian Intelligence Service gave to the Government have made very clear the status of this artwork and the fact that it couldn’t be purchased with public money,” Ghita said.
When asked to comment on PRU's complaint, Dacian Ciolos only said "May they be healthy! (Sa fie sanatosi!)", which roughly translates as "I don't really care!"
This is not the first time when the fundraising campaign for Cumintenia Pamantului is being criticized. In early-September, former Prime Minister Victor Ponta also attacked the Government’s actions.
“The technocrats said that they would manage the country in a special situation, organize elections, and then leave satisfied. Meanwhile, they changed their mind and are now struggling to hold elections in which they will be elected – just like the FSN (National Salvation Front party e.n.) in 1990,” he wrote on Facebook.
According to him, the fundraising campaign organized for the Brancusi sculpture had turned into an “easily masked classical electoral operation.”
The fundraising campaign turned out to be a public failure of the Ciolos Government.
The Romanian state agreed early this year to pay EUR 11 million for Cumintenia Pamantului. The Government initially announced that EUR 5 million would be paid from the state budget, and launched a fundraising campaign to raise the remaining EUR 6 million from donations. However, the state only collected EUR 1.27 million until the end of the campaign, on September 30.
In mid-October, the Romanian Government decided to cover the remaining costs to purchase the famous sculpture. Thus, the state will give almost EUR 9.7 million from the state budget for the statue, plus the EUR 1.3 million raised from donations. The Government initially said that it would return the donations and give up buying the statue if it failed to raise the EUR 6 million targeted.
Moreover, The Government also decided to set a special fund, called the Brancusi Fund, which will be used to buy other works of art in the future.
The attacks on Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos have intensified in recent weeks, after he announced that he was willing to continue as Prime Minister after the elections if some local parties would embrace his principles and propose him for the job. Although he will not run in the elections for the Parliament, the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Save Romania Union (USR) have announced they would support him for a new mandate.
Irina Popescu, firstname.lastname@example.org