Artist or con artist? Sculptor charged over 3.7 million euro alleged fraud after public works of art found to be made from cheap brass

Sculpture National Theater Bucharest, Wikipedia
Sculpture National Theater Bucharest, Wikipedia

A Romanian sculptor who created some of the most emblematic works of recent times in the capital has been charged with defrauding the city hall by using cheaper material than agreed to in contracts he was awarded over 11 years.

Police said that a number of sculptures including one which graces the front garden of the National Theater and another outside the National History Museum were crafted from low quality and cheaper brass and not bronze as they should have been.

Police said the damages were worth 18 million lei, about 3.7 million euros. Sculptor Ion Bolborea has been questioned by police G4Media reported, but hasn’t made any comment. In 2019, when allegations first surfaced, he called them „rubbish.”

An inquiry began after the tail of the she-wolf which stands outside the National History Museum on the iconic Victory Way, snapped off in 2017 in an act of vandalism and the  sculpture was sent to be repaired.

During repair work, experts observed that the work was made from brass and not bronze.

Police said Saturday that an artist had been formally charged for ‘ongoing fraud’ from 2005 to 2016 with ‘serious consequences.’ His home and workshop were searched by police.

G4Media and other Romanian media reported that the artist, who was not formally named by police, was Ioan Bolborea, a sculptor who won a number of lucrative contracts to build the contemporary sculptures.

The Administration of Touristic Monuments and Patrimony who awarded him contracts to carry out the works filed a complaint and police began a probe, G4Media reported.

Police said in a statement that the sculptor who executed artistic work paid for with public money used material of an inferior quality, rather than bronze as stipulated in the contract.

The city hall paid the equivalent of 42,500 euros for the wolf statue in 2012, when Sorin Oprescu was mayor.


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