The artist, initially unidentified, was eventually revealed to be Conor Casby, a school teacher in his thirties from Claremorris, County Mayo. The first portrait was surreptitiously hung in the National Gallery of Ireland on 7 March 2009. Casby is said to have entered the National Gallery carrying a shoulder bag, and located a free space for his portrait and its caption among other portraits of prominent Irish people such as Michael Collins, William Butler Yeats, and Bono. Casby then left the building unnoticed by security. The caption which was placed beneath the portrait alluded to Cowen's nickname, "Biffo" (Big ignorant fucker from Offaly), and his time as Ireland's Minister for Finance. It was reported as having read:
Brian Cowen, Politician 1960–2008. This portrait, acquired uncommissioned by the National Gallery, celebrates one of the finest politicians produced by Ireland since the foundation of the state. Following a spell at the helm of the Department of Finance during a period of unprecedented prosperity, Brian Cowen inherited the office of Taoiseach in 2008. Balancing a public image that ranges from fantastically intelligent analytical thinker to Big Ignorant Fucker from Offaly, the Taoiseach proves to be a challenging subject to represent.
The National Gallery called gardaí after it discovered the unauthorised painting. It has claimed that it had been hanging in public view for no more than twenty minutes before it was removed, contradicting the Sunday Tribune's claim that it hung for over an hour.
The following day, 8 March, Casby hung a second painting of Cowen in the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA). A woman attempted to buy the RHA portrait before it was removed.
Both paintings depict Cowen from the waist up, wearing his glasses. In the RHA painting, he is holding a pair of blue and white underpants in his left hand. In the other, he is clutching a toilet roll.
Read more about this topic: Brian Cowen Nude Portraits Controversy
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