Clooney calls for Mona Lisa’s return to Italy

Actor George Clooney has waded into the battle for the Mona Lisa, saying it should be returned to its native Florence.

Clooney calls for Mona Lisa's return to Italy
George Clooney has called for the Mona Lisa's return to Italy. Photos: Wikipedia

The comments were made during a promotional tour for Clooney’s new film, The Monuments Men, in Milan, according to a report in Hollywood Reporter, and is likely to reignite the spat over the world’s most famous painting between the two nations. 

George Clooney is sometimes referred to in Italy as the 'treasure of Laglio', the small town on Lake Como where he owns a villa.

France has fiercely guarded Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, which has been hanging in the Louvre museum in Paris since 1797.

It was bought by France's King Francis I shortly after its completion in the 16th century.

The painting returned to Italy just once since then, and that was only because it was stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia, a former employee of the Louvre who reportedly believed the portrait should be in an Italian museum, in 1911.

It wasn’t tracked down until 1913, when it was found in Peruggia’s home in Florence.

Italy has made several failed bids for its return, most recently last year when it sought to borrow the painting as part of an exhibition marking the centenary of its recovery following the theft. More than 150,000 Italians signed a petition to bring the painting to the Uffizi museum.

But France refused, saying that lending the work would present “many technical difficulties”.

READ MORE HERE: France rejects Italian plea to borrow Mona Lisa

Acclaimed as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world", the Mona Lisa is estimated to have been painted between 1503 and 1506.

The portrait is believed to be of Lisa Gheradini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a wealthy silk merchant from Florence.

Clooney also caused a stir last week when he called on Britain to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. 

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British man found dead in Florence hotel named as ex-rugby league player

A man found dead in a hotel room in Florence was named by Italian media on Sunday as British former rugby league player Ricky Bibey.

British man found dead in Florence hotel named as ex-rugby league player

A man was found dead on Saturday in the Hotel Continentale after a woman he was with cried out for help, according to unconfirmed media reports.

Italian news outlets have identified the victim as Ricky Bibey, a two-time Challenge Cup winner with Wigan Warriors and St Helens. Police have yet to confirm the dead man’s identity.

Super League tweeted it was “saddened to hear of the passing of Ricky Bibey”.

“We thank Ricky for his contributions to the game and send our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends during this time”.

A maid rushed in to find the 43-year old woman bleeding heavily from serious injuries, and she was rushed to hospital, La Nazione daily newspaper said.

Bibey, 40, appeared to have died of a heart attack, it said.

Other guests at the Continentale, just next to the Tuscan city’s famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, reportedly heard shouts coming from the room.

Police seized objects including items possibly used in an erotic game, La Nazione said.