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'Mars' statue's privates public again

Nov. 19, 2010 at 12:52 PM
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ROME, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- A male appendage normally considered private was reattached to a statue on the orders of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- at taxpayers' expense.

The reported $95,500 price tag for reattaching a penis to the "Mars" statue in Berlusconi's office unleashed criticism as the Italian government has slashed millions from the country's arts and heritage budget and parts of Pompeii are crumbling, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The 6-foot sculpture, which dates from around A.D. 175, is on loan from a museum and displayed beside a similarly sized "Venus" in Palazzo Chigi, Berlusconi's office in central Rome.

The new penis was fitted with a magnet so that it can be easily removed if a more comprehensive restoration is performed, officials said.

Experts said they studied statues of male nudes from the same period to determine the proper dimensions of the prosthetic.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica said the restoration project was performed outside of strict restoration rules and likely will have to be reversed when the statues return to the Baths of Diocletian museum in Rome.

The restoration effort also replaced a hand that had broken off Mars and restored a hand that was missing from Venus.

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