Murray, who will be in Winnipeg Tuesday night, was absent from a Monday afternoon ceremony that saw Mayor Sam Katz and city clerk Richard Kachur unveil a $10,000 picture of Winnipeg's 41st mayor, who served from 1998 to 2004.
The portrait by Winnipeg artist Peter Garland, based on a photograph by Winnipeg Free Press freelancer Ruth Bonneville, will hang inside the council chambers next to a likeness of Murray's predecessor, Susan Thompson.
"There must have been some sort of miscommunication. I would have liked to be there, and I look forward to seeing it next time I'm at city hall," Murray said on Monday from Toronto, where he runs a municipal consulting firm.
The former mayor is in Winnipeg this week to visit friends and hold a Thursday outreach session for National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), an organization he chairs.
He said he was not aware of his portrait unveiling until Monday morning and neither he nor his secretary had received any messages via phone, e-mail or regular mail regarding the ceremony.
But he also asked the Free Press not to make a big deal about his absence, adding he is grateful for the effort on the part of the artist, who has also painted portraits of former prime minister John Turner and several members of the British nobility.
The city, however, maintains invitations were sent to Murray, but the former mayor did not respond, Kachur said.
Earlier this year, the city clerk spent months trying to arrange a time for the former mayor to pose for a portrait artist, but Murray was too busy to fit a portrait session into his schedule.
So Kachur and city protocol manager Lisa Blake sifted through several photos of Murray before they chose the photo by Bonneville, which Murray himself commissioned in 2004.
They then selected artist Garland, who was recommended by Exchange District gallery Mayberry Fine Art.
"This had been left for quite a while. It was something we wanted to get done," Kachur said.
At $10,000, the mayoral portrait is the most expensive in the city's history, the city clerk said. But the province has spent as much as $20,000 on official portraits, which are pricey on a good day, he added.
"I like it. I think it's very nice. He's a very attractive young man," said Katz following the unveiling. "I'm sure he will be able to see it very shortly."
Murray stepped down as mayor in 2004, paving the way for Katz to take office in a byelection.