ROME – Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero is being investigated on suspicion of tax evasion, Italian authorities said Tuesday.
Tax police in the northern town of Viareggio said they are investigating whether Botero, famous for works of plump figures, should have declared 7 million euros ($8.92 million) in earnings from 2003-2008.
They allege that Botero must pay taxes in Italy because his artworks are produced entirely by companies and foundries in the country that distribute them to galleries worldwide.
Botero told the ANSA news agency that he "did not owe anything" to Italian tax authorities and said his position will soon be cleared up.
Botero could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday and his accountant in Italy declined to comment.
Botero's residence is in Monaco. He owns a studio in Pietrasanta, a Tuscan town where he also spends part of the year.
Police official Pasquale Arena said Botero failed to pay taxes on a villa he purchased in Pietrasanta. He said local prosecutors were notified of the probe because the large sums involved warranted possible criminal charges.
Botero sparked controversy in recent years with drawings and paintings depicting abuse of prisoners by U.S. troops at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.