"Silvio & Ruby" on auction at Milan art dealer

Wed Apr 6, 2011 12:30pm EDT
 
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MILAN (Reuters Life!) - A smiling close-up of Silvio Berlusconi and Moroccan teenager Karima El Mahroug together would have been a priceless picture for photographers attending the Italian prime minister's trial on underage prostitution charges.

Prosecutors accuse the 74-year-old Berlusconi of paying for sex with El Mahroug when she was under the legal age limit of 18 and the trial, which opened in Milan on Wednesday, has caused a global media sensation.

But Israeli-born artist Dodi Reifenberg said the couple has inspired him to create a more regal image to depict the young dancer and the aging Italian politician.

"When I started working, I had a clear objective. I wanted people to think they were just looking at a beautiful couple, like Prince William & Kate Middleton, portrayed in their life together," Reifenberg, 50, said in a statement.

The Berlin-based environmental artist used plastic bags and scotch tape to create his "Silvio & Ruby" portrait, which was unveiled on Wednesday at the Edward Cutler Gallery in Milan.

"I follow the news and I feel like a neutral viewer... but I consider this painting a work of art," said Cutler, whose art dealership has branches in London and Zurich.

The work is up for auction until May 6.

(Editing Paul Casciato)

 
<p>A painting called " Silvio &amp; Ruby" made with plastic bags and scotch tape by Israeli artist Dodi Reifenberg is displayed at the Edward Cutler gallery in Milan April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo</p>