Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence wins lawsuit over GQ cover mimicking Michelangelo's “David”

Recent news has brought attention to Michelangelo's famous sculpture "David" due to a lawsuit won by Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism against Edizioni Condé Nast. This lawsuit was in response to a magazine cover featuring a model posing as the sculpture, published three years ago.

The August 2020 edition of GQ Italia featured a modern-day man posing as the 16th-century statue "David". The publisher used a photograph of model Pietro Boselli superimposed on the likeness of the Renaissance sculpture without obtaining a usage fee from the Galleria dell'Accademia. On May 15, the Court of Florence sided with the Italian Culture Ministry and criticized the magazine for "insidiously and maliciously" debasing the symbolic and identity value of the artwork by juxtaposing the images of Boselli and David.

Edizioni Condé Nast is required to pay a licensing fee of €20,000 (~$21,445) to the Galleria dell’Accademia, along with a fine of €30,000 (~$32,170) for the unauthorized alteration of the image.

“David,” “Birth of Venus,” and “Vitruvian Man” are all in the public domain.The museums' assertions deviate from the typical laws of the European Union and rely on a particular provision in the Italian constitution that safeguards depictions of cultural heritage.

The clause ensures the right to personal identity, which encompasses the protection of one's intellectual, political, social, religious, ideological, or professional heritage from being altered or distorted. Furthermore, it safeguards the right to the collective identity of citizens who identify with their nation, including the artistic and cultural heritage that forms part of the national community's memory.

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