One hundred and ninety-seven years ago, today, the Venus de Milo was discovered on Milos, a tiny Greek island with only 62 square miles of land to it's name.
Venus was discovered by two farming peasants named Yorgos and Antonio, who either found her behind a centuries old stone wall in a field on their property, or discovered her in a dank cave that had been sealed off underground, either way, the detail remains that she was buried for centuries before she was discovered by two clueless randos, a la the first act of the 1992 hit comedy Encino Man starring Brendan Fraser, Sean Astin and Pauly Shore, a man whom we would gladly trade for literally ANYONE who died in 2016.
Yorgos and Antonio found the Venus statue in at least four pieces: torso, legs, plinth, and possibly the left arm, rumored to be gripping an apple in her perfect first. More on *that* later. Yorgos and Antonio unearthed and assembled their momentous find took a step back and were like “Yah, great, another statue. We’re GREEK, we see statues ALL THE TIME.”
But this dude D’Urville, a French naval officer, visiting on shore leave, recognized how valuable the Venus would be and immediately offered to purchase her from the peasants on behalf of the French ambassador to Turkey, because D’Urville *knew* the Ambassador would want to send it to King Louis 18th as a gift. Yorgos and Antonio were like “*snort* DEAL!” and bargain was struck.
Awesome!! The Venus de Milo was legally purchased? Not stolen, or appropriated or commandeered? For once the people in power did something respectably!
WELL, WAIT FOR IT. [ HAHAHAHA--NO]
D’Urville dropped the ball: figuring the there was no rush since the statue was spoken for, he *didn’t* get the Ambassador to send money immediately, he just left the Venus there with the pledge that payment and a transport order would be forthcoming. Yorgos and Antonio proceeded to wait...and wait...for the promised confirmation and payment to come, so they could ship the statue off to France.
And while these *literally poor* peasants are waiting for the French to get off their gilded asses, Nicholas Mourousi, a translator working on behalf of Sultan Mahmoud II stops by, takes one look at Venus and is like “Hey hey hey, girl. Can’t help but notice you been ghosted. That’s some bullshit. Nobody puts baby in a corner, come with me to Constantinople.” And HE strikes a deal with Yorgos and Antonio, who by now have no fuckin’ clue what happened to D’Urville, and Mourousi makes good *by showing back up with cash.* BUT!!
--as Venus is being loaded onto a boat bound for Constantinople, the French ambassador’s dudes show up! He’d caught wind of the deal and, suddenly decides he’s interested again since someone else is mackin’ on the statue.
Mourousi’s like I BOUGHT IT FAIR AND SQUARE
The Ambassador’s dudes were like WE HAD DIBS THO
Mourousi’s all I MADE AN OFFER AND PAID ON TIME
And the Ambassador’s dudes were like DO YOU EVEN PRIVILEGE, BRO, BECAUSE WATCH THIS
And the ambassador’s men dash over to the island’s chieftain and coerce him into nullifying Mourousi’s legal purchase and reinstating France’s defunct one so that France can claim the Venus de Milo after all--proving once again that white people are just fucking assholes.
So our girl Venus is sent instead to France, where she is presented to Louis XVIII who is like “yah, great, another statue, I’m a FRENCH KING, I see statues ALL THE TIME” and immediately gets rid of it by donating it to the Louvre.
Quick-to-judge scholars at the time prematurely announce that the Venus de Milo had been sculpted by this dude Praxiteles, who’s a SUPER FAMOUS sculptor of the classical era, therefore the announcement drew tons of paying customers to the Louvre, even though the carved plinth that was unearthed along with Venus, and fits perfectly under her feet, was shortly translated and clearly stated that it was sculpted by Alexandros of Antioch, who is from the HELLENISTIC ERA (323-31 BCE), NOT THE CLASSICAL (510-323 BCE) -- THE FRENCH BE SOME LYIN’ SUMBICHES.
To be clear: they KNEW, and covered it up. Because 1) fragile masculinity, and 2) the Louvre was making bank on everyone coming to see the statue because they thought they were seeing a Praxiteles. AND WHAT ABOUT THAT LEFT ARM?? The arm that was allegedly found with the statue. Where’s that at?? Oh, well if it ever existed at all, it was scrapped by those same scholars, because allegedly they were convinced it couldn’t possibly be one of her original limbs, since there were small parts on the arm that were still rough and unfinished--unlike the body of the Venus, so yeah they may have actually chucked that whole thing in the bin.
LOL when scholars later discovered that not finishing the limbs of a statue in places that wouldn’t be seen from the point of view of the observer WAS TOTALLY A NORMAL PRACTICE and that French scholars had not only hidden evidence of the Venus de Milo’s actual creator but also possibly covered up that they might’ve thrown away one of her priceless body parts. VIVE LA FRANCE!!!
The 200th anniversary of the abysmally handled art deal will be upon us in exactly three years. An anniversary this big warrants massive planning to: handle specialty events, larger-than-normal crowds, demand for souvenirs, the extra burdens on plumbing and trash removal, dealing with more than the usual number of rude Americans on the premises, THE LOUVRE HAS A LOT TO GET READY FOR. When reached for comment about how the museum will be celebrating the upcoming bicentennial of their audacious, caucatious larceny, cover-up and vandalism of the most beloved statue in modern history, Sophie Grange, Chief Press Officer at The Louvre responded cryptically: “The Louvre 2020-2021 exhibitions program is not yet scheduled.”
Sophie? What gives?? Why wouldn’t you want to celebrate 200 years of having the Venus de Milo?
It’s not like a string of embarrassing revolts, uprisings, strikes, attempted coups, wars and a Nazi occupation happened after you acquired the statue.
It’s not like, in your centennial year of owning the Venus your president went insane, greeted foreign dignitaries wearing nothing but his medals of honor, and later without any explanation walked out of a state meeting, and directly into a lake.
It’s not like your baseball team has ever gone an unreasonable amount of time without ever having won a world title despite making it to the finals multiple times.
FRANCE, ADMIT IT, THE VENUS IS YOUR GOAT, YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELVES.
You’ve got three years to fix this, but you should probably act sooner, because Marine Le Pen might become president if you don’t. Also, because the Venus de Milo rightfully belongs either in Greek or Turkish hands. So break out the measuring tape, the wooden crates and the packing peanuts, and celebrate this anniversary by being Not Dicks and clearing your names so that the Venus can have the bicentennial she deserves.