Was Michelangelo Crooked? (Part 2)

Baldassare del Milanese, the merchant who peddled the Cupid, knew very well how to make use of Michelangelo’s talent.

He took the Cupid straight to Cardinal San Giorgio’s palace. The Cardinal was a famous collector of antiques and always on the lookout for the real thing.
“This is not only one of the best Roman statues ever found,” the merchant told him, “it is certainly the best preserved. Look at it, Eminence: not a nick, not a scratch.” Here he cleaned away for the excited Cardinal some of the dirt and grass he or Michelangelo had plugged into a few of the recesses.
“Oh, even if it were missing a toe or a whole arm I wouldn’t mind!” exclaimed the Cardinal, a real connoisseur. “I can’t believe the craftsmanship. Those old sculptors really knew their business.”

Considering the rarity of the piece (and the Cardinal’s disposition) the merchant must have set the price at four or five hundred ducats. Then he let the old Cardinal, an experienced haggler, bring him down to two hundred. The Cardinal, taking no chances, had him paid right there on the spot.

The merchant sent Michelangelo thirty ducats. “Things didn’t go as well as I had expected,” he wrote him. “The Cardinal said he already has more antique marbles than he knows what to do with; and anyway right now he is up to his neck in debt. The most I could get from him—and not even that was easy!—was forty ducats. I know this is disappointing; I’ve decided to send you thirty ducats and to take only ten for myself instead of the 40% we had agreed on. I think we were just unlucky. In another moment we might have gotten three times that.”

Three Sleeping Cupids: an antique model; by Tintoretto; and by Giulio Romano

See Was Michelangelo Crooked? (Part 3) and learn how the fraud was discovered and what the Cardinal did.

Back to Was Michelangelo Crooked (Part 1)


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9 Responses to Was Michelangelo Crooked? (Part 2)

  1. wrjones says:

    I like this story. I’m starting to admire Michelangelo even more.

    I once had a girlfriend whos father was a cabinet maker. He worked for/with a crook. He would fake old furniture with the aging, worm holes, wear, etc. His boss would then bring in prospects and tell them he had “discovered” this piece in an old european church hidden behind a ragged tapestry.

  2. Mrs Greensleaves says:

    I really enjoy your posts. They are highly informative and great fun to read.

  3. 100swallows says:

    Bill: maybe it was for the best that you broke with that girl. Her father and his partner may have introduced you to crime, and this way you stayed clean.

  4. 100swallows says:

    Thank you, Mrs Greensleaves, for reading them and telling me you like them.

  5. kimiam says:

    Swallows, bill recently stole an entire stone wall so I don’t know about that staying clean business.

    Great read.

  6. saltandpepper says:

    WOW! These are avatars that you got here! Why don’t you leave out that Michelangel stuff and specialize on avatars!

  7. 100swallows says:

    They ARE nice, aren’t they, salt and pepper? I’ll tell Matt’s computer–that will make the little thing beam.

  8. Pingback: Was Michelangelo Crooked?(Part 1) | The Best Artists

  9. Pingback: Was Michelangelo Crooked?(Part 1) | The Best Artists

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