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Editor: Stephen Clowney
Univ. of Kentucky College of Law

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

David v. Goliath?

David Great stuff in the New York Times this week.  Picking up on an earlier article in the Guardian, the Times does some digging on a controversy over who owns Michelangelo's David.  As the article states, for 500 years David as stood as a symbol of "Florentine independence and virtue."  And yet, the Italian government is now claiming ownership over the statue.  The rub:

In a nine-page document written in dense legalese, the lawyers concluded that “David” belongs to the nation, the true legal successor of the Florentine Republic, which commissioned the statue in 1501.

But the mayor has his own documents up his sleeve. For one, Florence had been the capital of Kingdom of Italy from 1865 to 1870, and “David,” he said, was part of a package deal that the kingdom gave the city after transferring the capital to Rome. Proof of ownership, he said, is in a June 9, 1871, document that authorizes the transfer to the city of several buildings, including the Palazzo Vecchio.

Unsurprisingly, the dispute all comes back to dollars and cents.  The Accademia, the museum that houses the statue, generates $10 million in annual ticket sales, and both the city and national government want their cut.  Maybe they should just cut the thing in half.

Steve Clowney 

(pic: David behind the Marzocco - a heraldic lion sculpted by Donatello that is the symbol of Florence. From echiner1 under creative commons license)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/property/2010/09/david-v-goliath.html

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