Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Money dispute leaves Tintin out of Belgian exhibit

A tussle over money means an exhibit celebrating the best of Belgium won't be able to include one of that country's favorite sons: the eternally youthful Tintin.

The Scotsman reports that the guardians of the estate of Hergé (Georges Remi) told curators of the Made in Belgium exhibition that they could feature Tintin only if they paid a fee. Moulinsart, the merchandising company that controls the rights to Hergé's estate is owned by Nick Rodwell, husband of the cartoonist's widow.

Made in Belgium, which marks the country's 175th anniversary, features famed fictional detective Hercule Poirot, surrealist artist René Magritte, and saxophone inventor Adolphe Saxe, among other noted Belgians.

Hergé's nephew, also named Georges Remi, accuses the estate of "failing to respect the spirit of Tintin" by asking exhibit organizers to cough up the cash.

"It’s disgusting, revolting, scandalous, unforgivable," he said. "It borders on insulting Hergé and his numerous admirers. It’s legitimate to protect the work of Hergé, but enclosing it in a high security prison goes completely against what my uncle would have wanted. It’s very far from the spirit of Tintin."

In a message on its website that makes no mention of money, Moulinsart said it tried to cooperate with exhibit organizers, but "it was not conceivable to present Hergé without displaying his work, his drawings, his own sketches and his signature. Showing pieces or models made by other people is a nonsense."

Update: I see Tom Spurgeon linked to another English-language article on the subject yesterday.