- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2014

Italian officials are threatening legal action against an Illinois-based arms manufacturer for an advertisement showing Michelangelo’s “David” holding a rifle.

ArmaLite’s advertisement shows the famous nude sculpture with the words “a work of art” to promote the $3,000 AR-50A1.

Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini says the government owns the rights to David, and he is demanding the ad be removed.

He said in a tweet, translated by BBC: “The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law. We will take action against the American company so that it immediately withdraws its campaign.”

Historical Heritage and Fine Arts Board curator Cristina Acidini has issued a legal notice to ArmaLite to withdraw the image.

Anyone wishing to commercially use a picture of the statue, the government says, must receive legal authorization and pay a fee, the Agence France-Presse reported.

Angelo Tartuferi, director of Florence’s Accademia Gallery, where the statue is on display, said the ad is not only “in bad taste but also completely illegal.”

The aesthetic value of the statue, considered a masterpiece of the Renaissance, cannot be distorted, he said.