The Italian Almanac

Fernando Botero

Free of Charges

World-famous Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero has been cleared of charges of evading Italian taxes. According to local newspapers, the artist was acquitted in unequivocal terms, with the sentence saying "the crime was not committed".

Botero's run-in with the Italian taxman began in November 2008 when officials claimed he had "not paid a cent on his earnings in Italy for the last five years". The undeclared income amounted to some seven million euros, the tax police said. They said they had informed Lucca prosecutors of their findings, arguing that the sums warranted criminal charges and not just a fine.

Botero, 79, who has made a career out of painting and sculpting whimsically outsized figures, has lived and worked in the Tuscan village of Pietrasanta near Lucca for 33 years but is officially resident in Monte Carlo.

When the probe was opened, he denied the charges. ''I don't owe the Italian taxman anything. I only come to Italy two months a year, providing work for the workshops and foundries in Pietrasanta''. Botero said the probe would ''make us foreign artists, who have chosen Italy for part of our activity, feel like leaving the country''.