An iconic Constantin Brancusi sculpture has become the unexpected centre of controversy after it came to light that the Romanian government has delayed returning more than €1m in donations following a failed crowdfunding campaign to buy the artefact.
Officials in Bucharest rallied the Romanian public to raise funds for the modernist masterpiece, using the slogan, “Brancusi is ours.” But when the fundraising drive collapsed in 2016, the Romanian government decided that the donations would instead remain theirs until the end of 2017.
Now politicians want to push back the deadline even further to the end of next year, the Romania Insider news site reported.
Brancusi’s sculpture, The Wisdom of the Earth, shows the stylised figure of a young woman with her knees drawn into her chest. The piece, which is considered by many to be one of the Romanian artist’s defining works, was put up for sale with an €11m price tag in 2016.
The Romanian government, then led by Dacian Ciolos, pledged €6m to bring the sculpture back into state hands.
Businesses and individuals were asked to help raise the remaining €5m, with more than 100,000 people donating to the cause.
The drive failed to hit its target, instead producing just €1.2m. The disappointing figure came despite a last minute rush of donations from outraged Romanians after the Russian embassy in Bucharest publicly gave €100 to the cause.
The Romanian government went on to pledge more money for the sculpture, but saw the idea defeated in the country’s parliament. Officials say that they are now negotiating with the sculpture’s owners in a bid to further drive the cost down.