‘Nobody values my art’, minister’s husband tells MP who questioned €15,000 acquisition

Artist Patrick Dalli, husband of the EU and equality minister, texted Nationalist MP Therese Comodini Cachia after demanding transparency on the acquisition of his €15,000 painting

Nobody values my art... Patrick Dalli (inset) texted Nationalist MP Therese Comodini Cachia
Nobody values my art... Patrick Dalli (inset) texted Nationalist MP Therese Comodini Cachia
Nationalist MP asks: why was minister's husband's artwork acquired?

The artist Patrick Dalli has taken exception at Nationalist MP Therese Comodini Cachia’s misgivings on the price paid by the State for his work, by showing her his umbrage in a personal text message.

Comodini Cachia was addressing the House in a debate on a budgetary estimates bill dealing with the ministry for culture. “I have questions about the supplementary finances requested to make payments for projects and activities, and even the engagement of professional services in the last year,” Comodini Cachia told the House, complaining of the ministry’s spend on culture which went over-budget due to direct orders.

She made reference to the €15,000 purchase of a nude by portrait artist Patrick Dalli, husband of the minister for equality and EU affairs Helena Dalli.

“I won’t enter into the merits of that artwork… but it is our job to ask on what criteria that artwork was purchased, who valued it, and whether the ministry can present that criteria and that estimate? Because €15,000 is much more than a salary for certain families.

“I expect that a painting purchased with the public’s money be justified by the minister, and that he tells us why this artist was favoured over others, and how that value was established.”

The oil painting – a nude portrait of a blond woman measuring 133cm by one metre – was acquired for €15,000 to hang in the prime minister’s official summer residence in Girgenti. It was acquired by the Finance and Administration Directorate within the OPM in the first half of 2017 by direct order, and the purchase was listed in the Malta Government Gazette of November 3, 2017.

Dalli it seemed, was having none of it.

“Honourable Comodini Cachia…” he said in a text he sent the MP at 8:56pm after Monday’s parliamentary sitting had finished, “for your partisan information, which you requested of my work in parliament, the price of my art is established by myself and nobody has the right to value my work.”

“For your benefit, my CV can be found in the international galleries that have asked me to exhibit my work. You can find this on electronic media. Patrick Dalli.”

Commodini Cachia posted the screenshot of the text message on her Facebook wall, saying that Dalli was “deciding for himself how much the government should spend on his art”.

Dalli even entered the fray on Facebook, telling the MP: “Do not stoop so low. I said that I was the one who stated the price of my work.”