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Mayor painted as Roman soldier with public funds

Mayor painted as Roman soldier with public funds

Published: 26 Sep 2012 11:40 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Sep 2012 11:40 GMT+02:00

A mayor from southern Sweden has been slammed for paying an artist friend 600,000 kronor ($91,584) in public funds to paint a depiction of the mayor dressed as a Roman legionary as part of a mural in the local council's building.

“I have met the artist on many different occasions and we had discussed a painting. I thought it sounded very interesting. He then sent in a proposal that was presented to the Hörby industrial property board,” mayor Lars Ahlkvist of the Moderate Party told local paper Skånska Dagbladet.

According to the paper, the painting was never put out to tender but was commissioned during a number of meetings between Hörby municipality’s top brass and the artist in question.

The costs of the 600,000 kronor fee are supposed to be shared between the municipality and the industrial property company.

The painting, depicting Ahlkvist dressed as a Roman legionary, is to be part of a larger mural in the council building.

In addition to the Roman-style mayor, the painting also features a local financier depicted as Sweden's King Karl XI and his partner as a noble lady of the same time.

Speaking with the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, Ahlkvist explained that Hörby has a "rich tradition of adornment".

While he admitted that the only connection between Hörby and the Roman empire was "through the church", Ahlkvist explained the mural was meant to connect the past with the present.

"In the painting, Jesus is escorted by a modern police officer," he told SvD.

"We've got the Arab Spring, as well as a team of snapphane from Hörby," he added, referring to 17th century pro-Danish guerrillas that fought against the Swedes.

Despite the controversy surrounding how the painting was funded, Ahlkvist emphasized that art should "prompt debate" and that the ensuing publicity could benefit the town.

"Clearly, Hörby has gotten a lot of attention and that is never a bad thing," he said in reference to the mural-inspired media debate.

The city manager for Hörby, Arne Bertilsson, is satisfied that the commissioning of the painting was done above board.

He contends the city didn't have to put the assignment out to tender since it required specialist skills – that of "monumental art".

“That’s why we decided to use the existing exceptions to the rules in the procurement laws which gave us the right to contact and chose one artist only,” he wrote on the municipality website.

According to Skånskan, the law states that those commissioning such a special piece of art should have adequate expertise, something Ahlkvist is adamant he has:

“I feel that I am familiar with art. I come from a family of artists and have spent a lot of time on it,” he told Skånskan.

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Your comments about this article

15:06 September 26, 2012 by Abe L
The sum payed for the painting is under the legal tendering limit so nothing illegal was done. At most it's a questionable investment.

Such posting do leave me wonder how many people in Sweden have a daytime job "slamming" actions of others. The amount of postings on here where people get "slammed" over completely arbitrary matters is staggering.
21:18 September 26, 2012 by Grokh
err put him in jail...some people get in trouble for way less .
22:50 September 26, 2012 by Emerentia
This sounds like a joke or something from the TV-serie "Starke man". (It's a Swedish sitcom about a a narcissistic mayor from southern Sweden who makes a lot of weird discissions and waste money on all kinds of stupid projects)
02:35 September 27, 2012 by Borilla
Apparently Breach of the Public Trust is not a crime in Sweden. If he can't be prosecuted for that, at least he can be convicted of bad taste.
11:43 September 27, 2012 by johan rebel
Do they have mayors in Sweden? Really? Where?
13:16 September 27, 2012 by nolikegohome
pls dump the guy in jail for his own safety, so he does not get into any more trouble.
12:47 September 29, 2012 by stigskog
The politicians need a daily reminder that any money they have available to spend is taken by force from the population under the threat of violence.

Maybe, possibly this could be excused if the money was needed in an emergency to save someones life, but to waste this money on such trivial things as this is completely immoral.

Most, if not all government activity is immoral because it is based on coercion and the threat of violence.
12:12 September 30, 2012 by viennacalling
Yet another Disgusting Waste of Taxpayers Funds

What are These So Called Leaders Thinking?

If They want to be RocK Stars why don't they do it in Their Own Time at Their Own Expence

This goes for All Current Western Leaders with this attitude , The Poor Taxpayer has just about had enough , I can see a True Bastille Day on the Way ! Forget the Arab spring the western poor taxpayers will rise against this sort of arrogant greedy selfish behavoir !
17:00 October 4, 2012 by Ale Komvux
I think this is just ridiculous. What's the point of it? 600,000 Swedish kronor for one stupid painting, paid for by public funds. I personally think that money could have gone somewhere else, to something better. Maybe spend the money on something that gives the society and the people something back. Instead of a painting that resembles a strutting mayor dressed in ancient roman war gear. What does hörby in Skåne even got to do whit roman history?
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