Paddy Power tempts Cristiano Ronaldo bust sculptor out of retirement with Gareth Bale project

Santos in Cardiff alongside his Bale bust

Provocative bookmaker Paddy Power has helped Portuguese artist Emanuel Santos get past his widely criticised Cristiano Ronaldo bust by hiring him to immortalise Wales and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale.

Bale, a teammate cum rival of Ronaldo, was the focus of the commission as the Champion’s League Final comes to his capital city of Cardiff, Wales on Saturday 3 June.

Back in March, Santos was forced to defend a bust he created for the renaming of the airport at Maderia to Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo, paying homage to the star who hailed from the area. A somewhat flawed entry into the art world, Santos hit headlines defending his work claiming that "Even Jesus did not please everyone,” adding “it’s not as simple as it seems”.

David Fraser, managing director of Ready10, the agency behind the stunt, said they tracked down Santos with a bit of “good old-fashioned PR and investigative journalism”. Inevitably, the team befriended and messaged Emanuel Santos’ family on Facebook in order to commission him for a follow-up piece.

After much negotiation with Santos, the bookmaker sealed the deal. It was a bit of a long shot, claimed Fraser, who added that he “didn’t think it would happen”.

On why the brand made a bronze bust of Gareth Bale, Fraser said that Paddy Power has a “heritage of going where other brands wouldn’t”, often intent on causing a bit of mischief.

Paddy Power 'PR and mischief champion' Lee Price, added: “It wasn’t particularly hard to convince [Santos] to do it – he probably didn’t expect to ever work again after that [Ronaldo] fiasco.”

He underlined that the bust took a total of 264 hours to bring to fruition, creating a bronzed tribute to ways 40kg.

Price also jumped to the defence of the Ronaldo bust, claiming that it was botched during the bronzing stage: “So what we’re saying is: it wasn’t Emanuel’s fault. That may or may not be related to the fact that we’re working with him now.”

The brand claims the bust has been valued at a total of £25,000, and the piece will be on display in the Paddy Power Cardiff outlet until Sunday 4 June.

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