There is no question that Michelangelo’s David is one of the most famous sculptures in the world. Chiseled out of a large block of marble between 1501 and 1504, the biblical figure stands 17 feet tall. Originally commissioned as one of a series to be positioned high up on the facade of Florence Cathedral, the statue was instead placed in a public square, outside the Palazzo della Signoria, the seat of civic government in Florence, where it was unveiled on 8 September 1504. In 1873 the statue of David was removed from the piazza, to protect it from damage, and displayed in the Accademia Gallery, Florence, where it attracts thousands of visitors each year. A replica was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in 1910.
Now the controversy: The New York Times reported on August 16th that an antediluvian disagreement over David has resumed between the city of Florence and the Italy state once a report by a state appointed lawyer surfaced. The report makes the case that even though David was commissioned by Florence Republic in 1501, Italy became the legal title holder after its merger in the 19th century. The mayor of Florence argues that a ruling following the merger approved ownership of the building of the famous statue was displayed to the city. Naturally the lawyers on the opposing side said this was false.
The two parties are currently embroiled in a tug of war over the statue. “Why is it so important who owns David?” you may be asking. The answer is cold hard cash. Nearly $10.2 million per year is taken in with ticket sales to view the statue. But the money goes to the Italian government, not the city. Still, David brings tourist from all over the globe to visit the city, which adds to Florence’s economic stability.
The battle rages on.
Read the full story on the New York Times Blog.