If you’re having trouble trying to find the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one, perhaps an $8,800 painting of a naked Stephen Harper might fit nicely under someone’s tree.
The controversial oil on canvas, painted by Kingston, Ont. artist Margaret Sutherland, is listed for sale on Kijiji by its owner Danielle Potvin of Gatineau, Quebec.
The painting features the former prime minister in the buff, reclining on a lounge chair with a small dog at his feet while someone dressed in business attire offers Harper a cup of a Tim Hortons beverage.
Harper did not pose for the painting.
Emperor Haute Couture, the official name of the artwork, was first displayed to the public in 2012 and was purchased by, at the time, a mystery art lover for $5,000. The Edward Day Gallery in Toronto declined to reveal who purchased the painting.
The owner of the painting remained a mystery up until Monday, when Potvin came forward in an interview with the Edmonton Journal.
The former civil servant told the newspaper she remained anonymous up until now over fears of repercussions at her government job.
“People really wanted to find out who bought it, but I was scared,” Potvin told the newspaper. “I couldn’t tell because I was working for the government.”
The painting is listed for $8,800 and comes with three binders of press clippings and a signature book. Potvin, who is now retired, said she’s selling the piece to help pay for some home renovations.
“I’m not a true collector, I’m not rich but one of the reasons why I bought the painting because I knew it was worth more than $5,000, I could tell. I took a chance,” Potvin told Global News.
Sutherland completed the painting in 2011, and it was supposed to be viewed as satire.
“It was a sort of a culmination of some general frustrations of the federal government’s policies and what they were telling us,” Sutherland said at the time. “The political message is to look for yourself and don’t necessarily believe the party line.”
Potvin said she was a bit shocked when she first saw the painting and the media coverage.
“I was in shock like everybody else,” Potvin recalls. “I could not believe how audacious this artist was, who would paint a prime minister like this.”
“The more I looked into the story behind it, the composition of the painting…there’s much more to see than the nudity. I think this is political art,” she added.
Potvin said as working as a civil servant, she felt compelled to buy the artwork, which led to an amusing conversation piece.
“We had good conversations about ‘is this art? is this not art?’” she said.
Potvin explained that Sutherland ended up painting herself into the portrait (the woman holding the Tim’s cup), and the dog, named Kayla, is also the artist’s.
Global News reached out to the Conservative party for comment but they did not immediately respond.
–with a file from The Canadian Press
© 2015 Shaw Media