Vancouver tech entrepreneur buys Stephen Harper nude portrait

Dec 20 2017, 2:48 am

Feast your eyes, Vancouver. This head-turning work of art will make its new home in our fair city.

Created by artist Margaret Sutherland of Kingston, Ontario, Emperor Haute Couture features a nude Stephen Harper reclining on a chaise longue, being offered a cup of Tim Hortons coffee on a silver platter.

Frederick Ghahramani, co-founder of Vancouver mobile developer airG, came out on top after a bidding war broke out for the controversial piece, following its posting to Kijiji by former owner and ex-Federal Government employee Danielle Potvin.

“There was a group from China, there was a group from the U.S., and I managed to win,” Ghahramani told Vancity Buzz. “I’m absolutely ecstatic about it, because I think it’s a really important piece, and will be a historic artifact for Canada in general.”

Ghahramani says while revealing the price would make the whole affair more transaction-based than he would like, he has made plans with the previous owner to donate a portion of the funds to the original artist.

He says Emperor Haute Couture is a work of genius that captures a moment in Canada’s history that will be studied for years to come, and it deserves to be preserved.

“I’ve always liked satire… satire as a medium has a time and place, and I don’t think there isn’t enough satire in Canada. We’re too Canadian. We’re too nice, and that propagates down to how we treat our politicians and people in power,” he says. “So I really want to commend the artist, as a proud Canadian artist, for doing something so un-Canadian and basically saying ‘the Emperor has new clothes.'”

For art-loving hopefuls bad news; Ghahramani says he has no plans of selling the piece. Instead, he hopes to tour Emperor Haute Couture around various universities, organizations, and educational institutions for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve just gone through a ten year period where, from the top down, our government ministers were silenced, weren’t allowed to speak, climate scientists weren’t allowed to publish, or speak, or talk to the media, civil servants – who we pay with our tax dollars – weren’t allowed to make media appearances, they re-branded the whole organization as the ‘Harper Government,’ he says. “There are lessons here for all kinds of future leaders of Canada, and I think it’s something that should be studied by students, and I want to torture Grade 12 Social Studies students in perpetuity into writing essays about it. So I think it’ll be a great piece for us all to discuss and talk about.”

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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