Statue loses penis from Berlusconi


An ancient statue of Mars has lost its fake penis and his counterpart Venus her hands, reversing the cosmetic changes ordered by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

In 2010, Berlusconi decided the two marble statues adorning the official residence of the prime minister were “incomplete” and ordered a swift alteration to remedy their shortcomings. In a move that horrified the art world, Mars was touched up with a fake penis, shield, hand and the point of his sword. Venus was given two new hands.

The ?70,000 ($90,000) price tag for the work sparked ridicule and anger from the opposition.

The statues, representing the god of war in the guise of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and goddess of love as his wife Faustine, date back to A.D. 175 and were discovered in 1918 in Ostia near Rome. They were originally lent to the Palazzo Chigi, the seat of government, but upon Berlusconi’s departure in May 2012 the duo were returned to the National Roman Museum.

It was there that historian Giovanna Bandini oversaw their restoration, the daily Il Messaggero reported, without specifying when it was completed. Bandini said the removal of the prostheses, which had been magnetically attached, had not damaged the statues in any way.

“These reconstructions do not comply with our principles of restoration, based on the appearance which history left us,” Bandini told Il Messaggero, adding that the reversal of the changes “was an experiment, and it was a complete success.”