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Why will nobody fess up to nude statue cover-up?

As the Italian media on Wednesday raged against a decision to cover up nude statues during a visit to a Rome museum by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, mystery mounted over who actually endorsed it.

Why will nobody fess up to nude statue cover-up?
Some of the nudes at the Rome museum. Photo: CZSABoads

Both the government and the museum’s managers have denied responsibility.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who accompanied Rouhani on the museum trip, called the cover-up “incomprehensible”, insisting that neither him nor premier Matteo Renzi had been made aware of the decision in advance.

Meanwhile, a smiling Rouhani told reporters he had “no contact on the subject” with Italian authorities.

“I know that the Italians are very hospitable, a people who seek to make their guests' visits as pleasant as possible and I thank them for that,” he added.

Rouhani and Renzi made speeches in Rome's Capitoline Museums on Tuesday, with a huge statue of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius on a horse featuring prominently in many of the photographs of the event.

But nude statues, including a Venus dating from the second century BC, had all been covered up in temporary wooden cartons, removing the risk of them creeping into any of the shots – or catching Rouhani's eye.

Sources at Rome’s City Hall, which manages the venue, assured the press that the municipality had played no role in the decision, palming journalists off to the premier's office.

Franceschini then attempted to calm things down, telling Corriere: “I never spoke about it being the responsibility of the Capitoline superintendents. It’s clear that there was an excess of zeal on the part of those in charge of organizing such events, who made the decision, without telling, as I already said, either the premier or I.”

Paolo Aquilanti, the general secretary of the premier's office, has reportedly ordered an inquiry.

But Renato Brunetta, the lower house whip for Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, took to twitter in defense of the museum's management, alleging the request came from the premier.

Codacons, the Italian consumers' association, also waded in, saying the story, which was picked up by major international news outlets, has tarnished Italy’s reputation, while demanding that whoever was responsible – if the culprit is ever exposed – be fired.

They should be punished “for the severe damage done to the honour and image of Rome, and the whole of Italy, and for the disgrace inflicted on the country globally,” the association added.

Alessandro Di Battista, from the Five Star Movement party, said the story was akin to the shame of the ostentatious funeral of a mafia boss held in Rome last August.

“There’s government outrage but zero liability, in the end the custodian will pay.”

Corriere journalist Pierluigi Battista wrote in an editorial: “It’s a stain. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We mustn’t think that nude art is something shameful or contempitible.”

Staff at another museum were equally outraged.

“It was a crazy thing to do,” Paolo Severino, who works at a museum in central Rome, told The Local.

“Nude art is everywhere in Italy. And anyone who comes to a museum here knows what to expect. I've never seen or heard about anyone getting offended by it.”

STATUE

Move Zlatan sculpture from Sweden to Milan where he’s appreciated, artist says

The sculptor whose towering bronze statue of Swedish football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic was vandalised on Sunday has called for it to be moved to Milan.

Move Zlatan sculpture from Sweden to Milan where he's appreciated, artist says
Artist Peter Linde (right) on stage with Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) before the statue was unveiled in October. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
The Italian city is where the footballer played at the peak of his career, representing both AC Milan and its bitter rival Inter Milan, and it is where he is returning this year for his footballing swan song at the former. 
 
“Stick it in Milan, that would be a good place. There they're happy for him, and not so idiotic as they are here,” Peter Linde told the Aftonbladet newspaper on Sunday.
 
Linde said, however, that he felt that it would be sad to give in to what he called “the forces of stupidity”. “Most of all, I'd like to think that we shouldn't move it, but I understand that perhaps we must,” he said. 
 
At 1.30am on Sunday, vandals sawed off both feet of the 2.7m bronze statue, causing it to topple over. The attack, like previous attempts to vandalise the statue, appears to have come as revenge against Ibrahimovic for his decision to invest in Hammarby IF, the Stockholm football team which is one of Malmö FF's bitterest rivals. 
 
The statue has since been moved to a secret location for repair. 
 
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In an interview with Italian journalists on January 2, the Swedish striker said that for him Milan was “home”. 
 
“I've always said that Milan is my home and finally I'm back,” he said, in halting Italian, shortly before holding his first press conference with AC Milan.  
 
According to Milan's trainer Stefano Pioli, the Swedish star seemed “completely unaffected” by the attack.
 
“I spoke with Zlatan less than five minutes ago and we spoke on other things, nothing at all about the statue,” Pioli said at a press conference on Sunday. “For me he seemed very calm and unaffected by what has happened.” 
 
Ibrahimovic first moved to Milan back in 2006 when he signed four-year contract with Inter Milan, ending his stint three years later as the Italian league's top goal scorer. 
 
He returned in August 2010 to play for AC Milan, initially on loan from Barcelona, ending his time as the league's top goal scorer, before moving to Paris Saint Germain in 2012. 
 
Håkan Sjöstrand, the General Secretary of the Swedish Football Association, said that he was in discussions with both LInde and Malmö's city government over the statue's future. 
 
“The statue first needs to be repaired and then it's up to Malmö's city government which owns the statue,” he said. 
 
Ibrahimovic was relegated to the bench for his first game back at AC Milan against Sampdoria on Monday, with Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek starting ahead of the former Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain player at the San Siro. 
 
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