The gun maker ArmaLite ran an ad as part of its “A Work of Art” campaign that features Michelangelo’s David holding a sniper rifle and has come under fire for it — from the Italian government, which owns the statue and claims its intellectual property.
In response to the ad, Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini recently tweeted, ”The advertisement image of an armed David offends and violates the law. We will act against the American company to make sure it withdraws the campaign immediately.”
Angello Tartuferi, director of the Accademia Gallery in Florence, where the statue is on display, told La Repubblica newspaper that Italy owned the copyright to David, saying “the law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be distorted. In this case, not only is the choice in bad taste but also completely illegal.”
ArmaLite has apologized for the ad and withdrawn it, saying it was “in poor taste.” “We deeply regret that ArmaLite offended anyone by this media campaign,” the company’s statement said. The ad was for the AR-50A1, a .50-caliber sniper rifle.
Supporters of the ad question the Italian government and the Accademia Gallery’s claim to the intellectual property of the statue.
Another Italian culture official, Sergio Givone, had an even harsher take on the ad: ”It’s an act of violence towards the sculpture; like taking a hammer to it or worse. It would be right to claim compensation from the American company. Maybe even an astronomical figure: a billion dollars, to be used to restore Pompeii, or to fund all the necessary maintenance in Italian museums.”