So versatile were Leonardo da Vinci's talents in art and science and so boundless his visionary imagination, he is known to the world as the universal genius, the AP reports. But not to Italy's nationalist-tilting government, which is livid about plans by the Louvre museum in Paris for a blockbuster exhibit next year with as many as possible Leonardo masterpieces loaned from Italian museums to mark the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance artist's death. "It's unfair, a mistaken deal," Italian Culture Ministry Undersecretary Lucia Borgonzoni said of a 2017 agreement between a previous government and the Louvre. "Leonardo is an Italian genius," she says. Borgonzoni is a senator from the League, the "Italians-first" sovereignty-championing party in the nearly six-month-old populist government.
She was elaborating on comments earlier this month, in Italian daily Corriere della Sera, in which she said of Leonardo: "In France, all he did was die." Leonardo was born in 1452 in the Tuscan town of Vinci, Italy, and died in Amboise, France, in 1519. Borgonzoni criticized how as part of the 2017 arrangement, Italy also pledged to program its own exhibits so they won't compete with the Louvre mega-show. The Louvre declined to comment on Italy's objections, nor say which artworks it requested from Italy, noting it's nearly a year before the four-months-long exhibit opens on Oct. 24, 2019. "While respecting the autonomy of museums, national interests can't be put in second place," Borgonzoni tells Corriere. "The French can't have everything." (Meanwhile, the leaning tower of Pisa's lean has changed.)