Artist Margaret Sutherland
|Medium Oil, on canvas|
|Dimensions 91.44 cm × 152.4 cm (36.00 in × 60.0 in)|
Location Private Collection, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Emperor Haute Couture is the name of the popular Canadian oil-on-canvas painting depicting Stephen Joseph Harper PC MP who served as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada from February 6, 2006, to November 4, 2015.
The painting is the work of renowned Canadian artist Margaret Sutherland of Kingston Ontario. The work made national headlines after it was awarded a public unveiling by the Kingston Arts Council’s annual juried salon at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library.
Human Rights Complaint
After the initial public unveiling of the painting, Curtis Stewart of St. Albert, Alberta, lodged a human rights complaint against the Kingston Frontenac Public Library at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Stewart's application argued that his rights were infringed when the library chose to display the risque painting as part of a local art show. After seven months, the human rights complaint was dismissed.
Sale at Auction
Danielle Potvin bought the painting from the Edward Day Gallery (Toronto) in June 2012 for $5,000. In the fall of 2015, she decided to sell the painting to pay for home renovations and the painting was put for sale for $8,800 in Kijiji in Chicoutimi, Québec, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. An article from Jana G. Pruden, from the Edmonton Journal (November 23, 2015) started a bidding war, which was won by the Vancouver-based technology entrepreneur Frederick Ghahramani. Ghahramani revealed his intention was to share the painting with Canadian high-schools and Universities for no fee, because he felt Sutherland's work is "going to be a Canadian artifact, and does a brilliant job capturing the mood of over 60% of Canadians who felt our Prime Minister didn't want to listen to his own experts."