Deal on “Wisdom of the Earth”. Brancusi’s famous sculpture to be rendered to the Romanian state

The Culture Minister announced on Wednesday night that the owners of the “Wisdom of the Earth” sculpture by Constantin Brancusi have accepted the acquisition offer of EUR 11 million tabled by the Romanian Government’s negotiation committee. The Executive will pay half of the sum while the Culture ministry will give the rest by national public subscription.

The Culture Minister informed on Facebook that the details of the subscription campaign would be announced soon.

The Government resumed the acquisition process of the famous sculpture on February 18th.

While the sculpture’s owners initially asked the Gov’t EUR 20m for it, rumors were spread that the Executive submitted a bid of EUR 1m in October last year, so negotiations failed prompting to a deadlock. The Culture Ministry promptly retorted right after that, saying that an estimation of EUR 20m for the sculpture is fake and absurd, also denying that it had submitted a EUR 1m bid.

The Government officials pointed out that the descendants of the family who owns the sculpture are not at all the ones who have the major interest in this transaction, but the Artmark auction house managing the sale would be. According to ex-secretary of state Bogdan Stanoevici, Artmark manager and main stockholder Alexandru Baldea “tried to force the Government’s hand with that EUR 20m assessment” so that Artmark could cash in on a higher percentage. The secretary of state also argued that the head of the auction house would have tried to convince the sculpture’s owners that EUR 20m is the right sum.

The statue, which belongs to a private Bucharest collection, was put up for sale and was presented on September 8th, 2014 at the private exhibition “Showcasing Romanian Avant-garde Art from Private Collections, on exclusive display” organised by Artmark on the occasion of the visit of several important international collectors.

However, after the power shift in Bucharest, the new Cabinet led by Dacian Cioloș resumed negotiations.

At the same time, February 19th was declared the Brancusi Day following a law promulgated by president Iohannis in November last year. The initiators argued that Brancusi deserves a national day “as a moral compensation for the humiliation that the former Romanian communist regime put him through”.

‘Wisdom of the Earth’ sculpted by Brancusi represents a woman that is very focused on herself, her face emanating a mistery that transforms  her into a universal portrait. The woman, carved in limestone, sits with her arms resting on her pulled-up legs and looks enigmatically ahead. The attitude of the statue emanates a sense of attachment towards earth, in a way very similar to the Thinker of Hamangia.

The sculpture is regarded as one of Brancusi’s defining work and one of Romania’s finest modernist artworks.

The work was exposed for the first time in 1910 in Bucharest and roused a lot of questions, but ultimately it was accepted. First sold in 1911, it was confiscated by the communists in 1957 and became the subject of a lengthy legal battle after the fall of the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, being returned to the family of its original owner in 2008.

Brâncuși, who spent much of his life living in Paris, is considered Romania’s most important artist.

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