Disputed Michelangelo Provokes Controversy in Italy

Disputed Michelangelo Provokes Controversy in Italy
It may not be the Scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but a recently acquired small, wooden crucifix attributed to Michelangelo is receiving a lot of attention in Italy. The fanfare is not only because of its price — €3.3 million ($4.3 million) – but also because there is some question whether the work is, in fact, by the Italian Renaissance artist.

The New York Times reported that the crucifix was sold by the Turin-based antiques dealer Giancarlo Gallino to the Italian Ministry of Culture in 2008. Although $4.3 million sounds like gobs of money, when compared to the prices Michelangelo’s works usually receive at auction, the price tag is quite low (for example, a drawing would typically fetch $20 million). Another cause for anger: More than €1 billion have been cut from the ministry’s projected budget for the next three years, causing some to wonder whether the money could have been better spent.

Prosecutors for Italy’s National Audit Office are trying to determine whether the state overpaid for the artwork. Renaissance art experts are in disagreement about whether the object should be credited to Michelangelo or not. There are no documents that verify whether the work is actually by Michelangelo.

The crucifix is currently on exhibit through May 3 it in Milan at the Castello Sforzesco.