Uffizi Gallery Director Denies Hosting Wild Bachelor Party at Historic Palazzo Pitti

Eike Schmidt insists the event was a corporate dinner.

Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Photo by Giovanni Mereghetti/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.
Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Photo by Giovanni Mereghetti/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

The German director of Florence’s Uffizi Gallery has denied Italian media reports that he hosted a “wild bachelor party” at the Palazzo Pitti earlier this month.

Tomaso Montanari, a writer for the Italian daily La Repubblica, claims to have overheard a conversation mentioning strippers while crossing the Palazzo’s Ammannati Courtyard. The paper criticized the “vulgar” event, which reportedly occurred on September 23, and the “embarrassing” decor, which reportedly included pink and blue balloons and a large golden picture frame.

“We might have expected that the arrival of Eike Schmidt at the helm of the Medici complex would put an end to the commercial decline, vulgarity, and deprivation of these extraordinary public monuments. Instead we are going from bad to worse, and we wonder where we will stop,” Montanari writes in his scathing criticism of the event.

Speaking to the German art magazine Monopol, Schmidt insists that the reports were false. He emphasized that the practice of renting out rooms of the Palazzo Pitti for private functions or corporate events has been in place for a long time.

“The money goes towards restoration and modernization,” he said, explaining that without the additional income the museum would have to raise ticket prices or postpone essential restorations.

Schmidt didn’t deny that a party took place in the Ammannati Courtyard, but far from being a bachelor party, it was a corporate dinner, he says. According to Schmidt, the guests had wished the host good luck for his impending nuptials.

“It was not a bachelor party,” Schmidt reiterated. “There were no student pranks that come to mind at such parties. No dance, or other things of that nature.”

Schmidt was appointed in August 2015 in a sweeping overhaul of the leadership positions of Italy’s leading cultural institutions. Culture minister Dario Franceschini announced the appointment of 20 new directors, including Schmidt, who is an expert in Renaissance and baroque sculpture. He previously worked at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles as well as Sotheby’s, and, according to his LinkedIn page, spent six years as a decorative arts curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

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