The New York Times devotes space on its front page to a detailed discussion of the “Michelangelo behind the couch.” Sidestepping the art market issue of the painting’s worth, the Times delves into the institutional politics surrounding attempts by the owner, Martin Kober, and Antonio Forcellino, a conservator, to authenticate the painting:
For Mr. Kober and Mr. Forcellino the painting’s transformation from family keepsake to object of historical scrutiny is as much a story about the intransigence of the art establishment and the gaps in its tradition-bound methods for considering authentication claims as it is about the ultimate fate of the painting itself. Curators at the Met and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, without seeing the painting firsthand, have turned Mr. Kober away.
Other experts have been point blank in their assessment. “It is a copy of a Michelangelo composition,” said Alexander Nagel, a professor at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts who has written about the artist’s late Pietàs.
Mr. Forcellino, who acknowledges that he runs a risk of professional embarrassment by championing the painting, said he decided to write a book about it in part “to start a debate on the mechanisms of subject specialization, which often undermine rather than foster an expansion of knowledge.”
The Pietà Behind the Couch (New York Times)