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Livorno plans to show fake Modigliani heads

Three fake Amedeo Modigliani head sculptures, produced in 1984 by students from Livorno in what has been described as the greatest hoax in the history of Italian art, are due to go on display in a bid to draw tourists to the Ligurian port city.

Livorno plans to show fake Modigliani heads
Italian artist and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani. Photo: Wikipedia

What was reportedly an innocent joke by three students turned into one of the greatest hoax stories ever, with news of the discovery of ‘missing’ heads by painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani in Livorno’s canal making headlines around the world and attracting visitors to the city.

It was the summer of 1984, and an exhibition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Modigliani’s birth in his hometown had begun on a lacklustre note.

So in an effort to drum up more enthusiasm, the organizer, Vera Durbé, decided to fund a search for the carved heads that Modigliani is said to have hurled into the Fosse Reale canal after receiving negative reviews.

A week into the search, three sculptures were found at the bottom of the canal, prompting Durbé to announce they were Modigliani originals, a declaration that attracted hundreds of visitors to the city.

But art historian Federico Zeri cast doubt on their authenticity, saying they were so “immature” that Modigliani had been right to cast them aside.

The three students later confessed to producing one of them with a Black & Decker drill, while the other two were made by a local artist.

Preparation of the exhibit will begin on June 6th in a room in the Fortezza Vecchia, although the show’s start date is yet to be revealed, according to a report by the Italian news agency Ansa.

The show will also include clippings from newspaper reports about the famous hoax.

Thirty years on, organizer's are hoping the story will attract visitors.

"For a long time we have wanted to tell a story that was unique in the 20th century and is sure to be a tourist attraction," Mario Tredici, the culture councillor for Livorno, was quoted by Ansa as saying.

Modigliani was born in Livorno in 1884. He is said to have fled to Paris in 1909, angered by negative reviews of this work. He died there, aged 35, of tubercular meningitis.

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METRO

Man with fake gun sparks Rome metro panic

A man carrying what turned out to be a plastic gun sparked an evacuation at Rome's main train station late on Monday after railway police received an alert that an armed man was on the city's transport network.

Man with fake gun sparks Rome metro panic
police officers stand guard outside Rome's Termini station after it was evacuated. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The railway police reported the evacuation in a message on Twitter at around 7pm GMT, while passengers also took to social media to post pictures of the evacuation at the Roma Termini station.

Shortly after, Italian media published a CCTV image showing a man in black trousers, a blue jacket and a white cap, pointing an object that resembled a gun towards the floor.

Media said a passenger had raised the alarm on a metro train three stops before Termini and that the man was arrested, with the gun in his hand, as he alighted from a regional train in Anagni, 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of Rome.

Roma Termini, which includes mainline and urban underground lines, is the biggest in Italy with thousands of passengers, including many tourists, passing through it every day.