Mars, Venus lose body parts as Berlusconi 'surgery' reversed

ROME (AFP) - An ancient statue of Mars has lost its fake penis and his counterpart Venus her hands, in the reversal of cosmetic changes ordered by Italy's ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

In 2010 Berlusconi decided the two marble statues adorning the official residence of the prime minister were "incomplete" and ordered a swift intervention to remedy their shortcomings.

In a move which horrified the art world, Mars was touched up with a fake penis, shield, hand and the point of his sword and Venus her two hands. The 70,000 euro (S$111,110) cost of the changes also sparked ridicule and anger from the opposition.

The statues, representing the god of war in the guise of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and goddess of love as his wife Faustine, date back to 175 AD and were discovered in 1918 in Ostia near Rome.

They had been lent to the Palazzo Chigi, the seat of government, but upon Berlusconi's departure in May 2012 the duo were returned to the National Roman Museum.

It was there that historian Giovanna Bandini oversaw their return to their original form, the daily Il Messaggero reported, without specifying when the restoration had been completed.

Mr Bandini said the removal of the prostheses, which had been attached by a magnetic system, had not damaged the statues in any way.

"These reconstructions do not comply with our principles of restoration, based on the appearance which history left us," Mr Bandini told Il Messaggero, adding that the reversal of the changes "was an experiment, and it was a complete success."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.