BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A nationally treasured work by Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi went on display at the National Bank of Romania Wednesday as part of a bid by the state to raise funds to buy it from a private owner.
The "Wisdom of the Earth" is a small sculpture — 50.5 centimeters or 19.9 inches tall — carved from limestone in a primitive modernist style depicting a female figure sitting with folded arms and her legs pulled up.
Dating to 1907 or 1908, it is one of just a few Brancusi works remaining in his homeland.
The government has pledged 5 million euros toward the 11 million euros ($12.3 million) price, much lower than its estimated value of 15-20 million euros, and is seeking the rest from private contributions.
Government spokesman Dan Suciu said Wednesday the campaign has raised 212,000 euros since March. The campaign ends Sept. 30.
"We have a long road ahead, but not all the engines have been turned on," he said. Suciu said that if the campaign falls short, contributions would be returned to donors.
The government's fundraising plans include a telethon on the national television station, and people will also be able to donate by phone. Six banks have set up accounts for donations.
Reflecting wariness about donating money, Adrian Tanachiu, 63, an antiques dealer, said he would not donate "because I don't trust the government....too much money was stolen in this country."
Romanian actress Maia Morgenstern, who supports the campaign, said the fundraising campaign was more than an economic endeavor. She said Brancusi symbolized "humanity, the values we aspire to."
The son of Romanian farmers, Brancusi emigrated to France in 1903 where he became one of the great sculptors of the last century.
In 1951, he wanted to donate all his works to Romania, but the communist authorities refused his offer. He died in 1957.
The sculpture is owned by Paula Romascu Ionescu and Alina Serbanescu, descendants of Gheorghe Romascu, a friend of Brancusi who bought the sculpture in 1911.
The Romanian government also wants to have Brancusi's remains moved from Paris to Romania.