A Romanian sculptor has been charged with fraud after his much-derided sculpture of the Emperor Trajan -- and 10 other works -- turned out to be made of brass and not bronze as originally claimed.
Ioan Bolborea, 65, who made the sculptures for the Bucharest municipality, is accused of defrauding local authorities of 3.7 million euros ($4.5 million), a police spokesman said on February 15.
One of the statues, a portrayal of a naked Roman emperor Trajan holding a she-wolf in his arms, was widely ridiculed after its installation outside the National History Museum in Bucharest in 2012.
The artwork, based on a model by late sculptor Vasile Gorduz, symbolizes the genesis of the Romanian people from the merging of the Romans and the Dacians, with the wolf as a symbolic animal for both people. The Dacian standard ensign known as the Dacian Draco also depicts a dragon with a wolf's head.
After it was unveiled, the statue’s design prompted a wave of both mockery and indignation by Romanians. Online critics quipped it was a monument to Bucharest's stray dogs. The museum's curators said it was of "doubtful artistic quality."
Suspicions about the materials used in the sculpture first surfaced in 2017 when the statue was vandalized and the tail of the she-wolf was broken.
During restoration work, experts noticed that the statue was made of brass, not bronze as it was originally supposed to be.
Bolborea refused to comment on the charges.
The investigation originated in a series of complaints from the Bucharest municipality regarding Bolborea's works, which at the time he rejected as "nonsense."
Bolborea's sculptures are placed in several central spots in downtown Bucharest, including a massive sculpture titled A Cartful Of Clowns, located outside the National Theater.