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PM covers nude statue to spare Sheikh's blushes

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Jeff Koons' statue, Gazing Ball, in Florence. Photo: Annie Giullorti
17:10 CEST+02:00
A naked statue in Florence was covered by the Italian premier Matteo Renzi's team so as not to offend the visiting crown prince of Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose family's wealth is estimated at €150 billion, arrived in the city on Wednesday morning for a diplomatic visit, during which commercial agreements between the two countries would be finalized, Corriere Fiorentino reported.

Needless to say, the visit had been planned down to the smallest detail by Renzi and his team, with a wind breaker bearing the Fleur de Lis – the iconic lily of Florence - being placed around the American sculptor Jeff Koons' statue, Gazing Ball.

The statue features a naked man in Greco-Roman style balancing a blue mirrored sphere on his shoulder.

In many Arab cultures, including Abu Dhabi, public nudity is prohibited in any form but it is not known whether the statue was covered due to a specific request by the Sheikh's team or out of caution by the premier's staff.

This is not the first time Renzi has chosen to host a diplomatic guest in his native city of Florence over Rome. Renzi met the Abu Dhabi prince in the city's town hall, Palazzo Vecchio - home to Italy's most famous nude sculpture, Michelangelo's David, which remained uncovered throughout.

While he may not quite have the same level of fame as Michelangelo, Koons did break the record for the world's most expensive piece of art by a living artist in 2013, when his famous Baloon Dog sculpture sold for €52 million.

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In the past his work has often featured strong Roman influences. The artist himself was married to Italo-Hungarian porn star Cicciolina from 1991 to 1994.
 

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