Italy bans commercial use of Michelangelo’s David to fight Florence ticket touts

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Italy bans commercial use of Michelangelo’s David to fight Florence ticket touts
David on display at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

A court in Florence, home to Michelangelo’s David, has banned the unlicensed commercial use of images of the city’s famous statue in Italy and throughout Europe.


The ban, issued on Thursday, aims to stop scalpers overcharging tourists for tickets to Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, which counts the Renaissance masterpiece as its best-known attraction.

It was directed at one agency in particular, Visit Today, which advertizes its “VIP” tickets with images of David on flyers and on its website. The company has been ordered to remove all pictures of the statue from its promotional materials and faces a €2,000 fine for each day that it fails to comply.

“It’s a precedent and a model,” said the museum’s director, Cecilie Hollberg. “Many other museums that are also victims of the plague of overpriced ticket selling can now take this legal route, because the law will triumph over what is effectively a scam for visitors.”

Florence’s famous cathedral could be the next Italian landmark to reclaim control over its image.

Lucas Bagnoli, the head of the body responsible for the Duomo, the Baptistry and Giotto’s Bell Tower in the centre of Florence, said he was looking into following the Accademia gallery’s example, since scalpers and ticket touts also use the cathedral’s image to promote their services.

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

“Florence’s image must not be commercially exploited without limits or rules,” said the city’s mayor, Dario Nardella.

Cultural institutions all over Italy could potentially follow suit. 

The Europe-wide ban applies to anyone seeking to use David’s image for money-making purposes without permission from the Galleria dell’Accademia, which holds licensing rights to the statue’s image.

It is unclear whether that includes souvenirs and postcards, according to La Repubblica. Italy’s state lawyers have been asked to clarify the application of the ban. 


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