The Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic has been struck by a scandal these days, after having ‘‘undersold’’ at an auction a Paolo V’s bust that was a baroque piece by the famous Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The marble statue of inestimable value, that dated back to 1621, was sold at an auction in December last year for a starting price of 24 thousand euros. This year the statue has been exported to London, then sold for 30 million dollars in the USA. The explanation? Certainly a mistake made by the Slovak expert who has not recognized the author’s hand and registered it as a ‘‘reproduction’’. This is why the Ministry of Culture has authorized its exportation after the auction.
At that point the piece has been examined by Alexander Kader from the Sotheby’s in London who has recognized the extremely precious original. Then, it has been purchased by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The Minister of Culture, Marek Madaric, has already filed a penal complaint and the person responsible for having issued the export authorization has been dismissed. One cannot exclude that it may have been a case of corruption: “ We are in a corrupted country. We are ready to sell our own mother for personal benefits”, said the deputy Magda Vasaryova, former actress and Slovak diplomatic, to the Dennik N daily.
Translated by Ecaterina Severin