Desiderio in chains for lost painting
PANAMA. Panamanian artist Desiderio Sanchez chained himself outside the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday to protest the disappeara...
PANAMA. Panamanian artist Desiderio Sanchez chained himself outside the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday to protest the disappearance of his painting “Campesinos con Sombrero” loaned to the Panama Consulate in New York in 1983.
Carrying a banner that read “Minister: stop beating around the bush and pay me for my painting, its been a 24 years humiliating wait”, the artist demanded attention from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Samuel Lewis.
The octogenarian artist has proof the painting was borrowed to be exhibited at the Panamanian consulate in New York in 1983.
A letter signed by then General Consul in New York, Romulo Alvarado and Lucas Zarak, consul in San Francisco states the painting “Campesinos con Sombrero” was to be exhibited as a loan at the General Consulate of Panama in New York. It states clearly that the artist can request back the painting at will.
However there is no record of the painting ever being at the consulate in New York.
In a fax dated January 20, 2003 Rita Frochaux, consul in New York at the time, tells Chancellor Yvonne Young the $30,000 painting was not at the consulate and it did not appear in the inventory given to her at the beginning of her period in 1999.
Where is the painting then? A lawsuit of $150,000 could be the way the artist forces a response from the government.
”The great sacrifice of remaining loyal to this country has given me absolutely nothing” Sanchez said of the 20 years of frustrating dealings with the Ministry.
Lewis, who is himself chained to the Free Trade Agreement with the US, came out to appease Sanchez and also to express his admiration for his work. While he cannot use current public funds to pay for the painting, he offered to pay personally for lawyer fees so the artist can present a civil suit against the State.
“It’s a shame a pillar of Panamanian arts has to find himself in such a sad situation” he added.
A national and international renowned artist, Desiderio Sanchez has received many awards and graced the country art scene for more than 60 years.
His style reflects expressionist scenes from Panama’s landscape and culture.
With his hands still in chains, the artist accepted the Minister Samuel Lewis’s offer.