Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bloody Odd

Bloody Scotland

In case I forget – if you are in Scotland this weekend, make sure to drop by Bloody Scotland in Sterling. It has all the makings of a good time and considering how many great crime writers have popped out of Scotland it is remarkable that this is the first international crime festival held in the country. The star studded line-up features Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Peter James to name some. (and me)

Back to business:
Odd Nerdrum

The occasional person is aptly named. None more so than Odd Nerdrum.

Odd Nerdrum is a contemporary Norwegian painter that has made a name for himself world over for paintings that are in most part made using the techniques of the old masters such as Rembrandt. His work is thus baroque in style, although the subject of his work varies from that of the 1600s. If you have been to one of his exhibitions you will recognize his paintings from then on.
Taste in art varies so greatly from culture to culture, period to period and person to person, that it is useless to categorize Nerdrum’s work as good or bad. I have taken the liberty of choosing some examples of his paintings to accompany this post so the reader is able to judge for him/herself. Personally I find his work very impressive. The motives seem to represent another world, a planet somewhere far away – where I would under no circumstance want to live. Science fiction painting.

I once took my daughter ice skating during the period he lived here and had a very difficult time focusing on the slippery surface below me as Odd Nerdrum and his wife were such a contrast to the other skaters. To this day I am not even sure if they were skating at all as the robes they wore were so long you could not see their feet. It was a bit like watching “Name of the Rose – on Ice”.

The other day I heard him mentioned on the news. There were actually two separate new from Norway on that same program and both involved sentencing in the court. The second news regarded a gypsy gang that had been charged and found guilty of human trafficking of children/ child slavery and for a number of rapes, all in Norway. Six gypsies were before the court and the highest sentence passed was 2 years. The news about Odd Nerdrum, now 68, regarded tax evasion for which he had been sentenced to jail for 2 years and 10 months. The money involved was not chump change, apparently he kept 900.000 USD in a box and did not report it on his return. He however insists that the money was in safekeeping to repay buyers of his works from a period where he used a paint mixture that turned out not to last well. And he says that he is an artist, not a numbers person. I am not a lawyer but I find it highly likely that a better defense in a tax evasion case has been put forth at some point.  
The prosecutor of the case said when the sentence was handed down that: "As a preventative measure, tax evasion must be strictly punished." But apparently not child trafficking and rape.

When comparing the two crimes it is obvious to me that justice was not eked out very equally here. The judge seems to have given Odd Nerdrum a super-sized order while the gypsies got a kid’s meal. You see, even if it is the belief of the courts or spelled out in the law of the land that tax evasion is more serious than serial raping and selling of children, one must not forget one thing. There is not a chance in hell that the gyspies paid taxes on the funds acquired for selling those children.  

Yrsa - Wednesday  


  1. Yrsa, you have the most sterling way of putting things. And if I could be in Scotland this weekend, instead of LA, I'd be there in an instant.

    I loved the way you described the "odd" case of Mr. Nerdrum, but particularly so the way in which you drove home the human trafficking point.

    A book I wrote that will never be published, because so much of it came to pass before the book came out, was premised on human trafficking. And what you pointed out is precisely the problem in dealing with the crisis. Courts don't take the matters seriously.

    In 2009 12.3 million souls were trafficked for labor or sex. Only 49,000 of them were ever identified, and just 4,166 of their traffickers were convicted for their crimes.

    Perhaps the numbers are too great for people to comprehend the personal tragedies accompanying each trafficked life. Sad, sad, sad.

  2. Hi Jewffry - we will make up for it at Bouchercon. Humar trafficing is horrible - I would have bought your book in a heartbeat.