Philanthropist Saves Priceless Piero della Francesca Masterpiece

A philanthropist has stepped in to fund the restoration of a 15th-century fresco by Italian Renaissance master Piero della Francesca, the Independent reports.

Experts have warned that The Resurrection (1463–65)—located in the Museo Civico of Sansepolcro, in the painter’s native town in Tuscany—is showing concerning cracks, flaking, and signs of discoloration.

A restoration project for what the writer Aldous Huxley dubbed “the greatest picture in the world” has thus been set in motion. But, given the dire state of the Italian economy—which has severed the budgets allocated for the preservation of historical pieces—the institution has had to seek private sponsorship to fund this much-needed initiative.

The Resurrection’s benefactor is Italian businessman Aldo Osti, former executive of the Italian food company Buitoni, based in Sansepolcro. Osti has donated half of the €200,000 required to save the painting, even though the masterpiece belongs to the state.

The mayor of Sansepolcro, Daniela Frullani, told the Independent: “What can I say, thanks from the bottom of my heart to Mr. Osti for sponsoring the restoration as a private citizen of the most important work in our town.”

The full restoration process is expected to take between one and three years. More details will be revealed in the coming weeks.

This is not the first Italian masterpiece revamp funded by private donors. The restoration of the iconic Colosseum in Rome has been sponsored by Diego Della Valle, head of luxury leather goods group Tod’s. Bulgari is also helping to spruce up the Eternal City: The group has pledged €1.5 million towards the renovation of the Spanish Steps, due for completion in 2017.

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