The Ministry of Culture and National Identity stated for News.ro that it has refunded almost the entire amount received through the State Treasury under the donation campaign for the state acquisition of the sculpture “Wisdom of the Earth”, and Valer Daniel Breaz is analyzing the report of the mission of the Control Body and will soon make a decision.
The questions sent by News.ro to MCIN in the first half of November were related to a statement of the Minister at that time, George Ivascu, according to which he was going to announce in October the first results of the negotiations with the owners of Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture, at the negotiation committee, at the mission of the Prime Minister’s Control Body for checking the situation, and at the return of the donations.
“During the mandate of the former Minister of Culture and National Identity George Ivascu, the MCIN representatives had no meeting with the owners of the sculpture ‘Wisdom of the Earth’. Therefore, there have been no negotiations for the acquisition of the work of art”, reads the answer sent by the Ministry to News.ro.
In September, after a hearing at the Culture Committee of the Deputies’ Chamber, Minister George Ivascu stated – erroneously – that the negotiator in relation to the owners of the sculpture ‘Wisdom of the Earth’ is the interim of the National Museum of Romanian Art, which hosted the work of art for a period, and he “contacted” Paula Ionescu and Alina Serbanescu.
At that time, Ivascu also wished to contradict the statements made in the recent months by the lawyer of the owners and said that he hopes that the first results of the negotiations will be announced in October. On the other side, the owners said throughout the year that they weren’t contacted by anyone representing the Romanian state.
The current Minister Valer Daniel Breaz “is analyzing the report of the mission of the Prime Minister’s Control Body, a mission that checked the situation of Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture, in order to make a decision in the coming period”, also reads the Ministry’s answer.
Referring to the return of the donations made under the campaign “Brancusi is mine”, MCIN stated that “until today, the amount of RON 359,473 was refunded, of the total received through the account opened with the State Treasury, which amounts RON 370,811”.
In the answer sent to News.ro, it is also mentioned that the Ministry’s representatives will continue the working meetings and the collaboration with all the credit institutions involved in the return of the donations made for the acquisition of the sculpture “Wisdom of the Earth”.
On Tuesday, after the hearing at the Culture Committee of the Deputies’ Chamber, Minister Valer Daniel Breaz stated for News.ro that the first step after the prolongation of the term for refunding the donated money for the “Wisdom of the Earth” will be to meet the owners of Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture, without mentioning a time span.
“Wisdom of the Earth” is currently deposited in a private place, after the National Art Museum no longer had the needed money to insure it.
Last time when the bailment agreement was renewed, in April, the MNAR representatives told the owners Paula Ionescu and Alina Serbanescu that they are not sure if they will get the amount from the Ministry of Culture and National Identity to pay the insurance for the sculpture, so the owners decided not to leave the sculpture anymore in the custody of the museum.
The refund of the donations for the “Wisdom of the Earth” was postponed by the Government by an emergency ordinance until December 31, 2019.
“At the Friday meeting, the Romanian Government adopted an Emergency Ordinance on the prorogation of certain terms, given that, at present, the procedure to refund the donations for the Wisdom of the Earth must be completed by December 31, 2018, according to the provisions of the Government’s Emergency Ordinance no.117/2017”, reads a press release issued by the Culture Ministry.
The Government’s justification for this postponement: “refunding the donations is an extensive and complex operation, which involves, along with the Ministry of Culture and National Identity, non-profit or for-profit private entities with which the Ministry has concluded agreements in order to support collecting the funds, in its name and on its behalf, according to the provisions of the Government’s Emergency Ordinance no.10/2016. Thus, it is necessary to extend the legal term that was established, allowing the continuation of refunding the donations also in 2019, in order to protect the interests of all the citizens who got involved in the donation campaign”.
“In the absence of such urgent legislative measures required by an extraordinary and unpredictable situation, there would have been a danger not to be able to totally finalize the refunding of the donations, and consequently, a risk for the donors to be damaged. We cannot afford this”, the Minister of Culture and National Identity, Valer-Daniel Breaz explained.