Top contender for one of the most ironic news items I have ever read is this story in the Guardian:
Over the table at which Berlusconi holds press conferences in Palazzo Chigi, Italy’s equivalent of No 10 Downing Street, hangs a huge copy of a painting by the 18th-century Venetian master Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. It was selected by Berlusconi himself.
Slap in the middle of the painting is a neat, round female breast. During press conferences, as a commentator writing for the daily La Stampa noted, the breast floats above the prime minister’s head “like a halo”. This, it was felt, was too much for the sensibilities of a nation that – long before Berlusconi came along – had been feasting its eyes on half-naked Magdalenes and Minervas, not to mention the blatantly erotic statuary of Antonio Canova. Tiepolo’s breast, with attendant nipple, had to go.
Whether Berlusconi (a 71 year old politician) is deeply touched by Tiepolo’s artistic rendering of Time’s revelation of Truth, or whether he just wanted a painting of a withered old man snuggling up to a nubile half-naked young lady over his desk is anybody’s guess. Nevertheless, in the midst of controversy arising from the fact that he is a revolting pig of a man as far as the ladies are concerned (if the Guardian’s catalogue of offences is anything to go by), his image consultants have whitewashed the Funbags of Truth.
Whether painting over the boobs in Berloscuni’s press office makes the Italian public stop noticing his blatant, unrelenting chauvinism, only time will tell.