Coup-Monger Against a Background of Bars


It ain't quite Damien Hirst, but this awful canvas by Hugo Chavez, painted during his brief stint in prison for attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan government, fetched $255,000 at auction today. The proceeds will be used, according to The Guardian, to "help fund his socialist revolution"—a task the government has thus far found slightly challanging, despite record oil revenues.

And just when I was about to question President Chavez's credentials as an artist, the Guardian warned me that "Chávez's artistic credentials are not in question." Indeed, he once drew pictures of fellow students in high school:

As a boy in Sabaneta, a dusty, poor town in the plains, he used to paint friends, animals and landscapes. As a military cadet he drew caricatures of his comrades for their graduating yearbook.

Asked last year why he wanted to abolish term limits so he could run indefinitely—he has spoken of ruling until 2025—the president said his revolution was like an unfinished painting and he was the artist. Giving the brush to someone else was risky, "because they could have another vision, start to alter the contours of the painting."