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Elon Musk’s day out at the Uffizi

11 August 2021

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Following in the footsteps of Winckelmann, Stendhal, Walter Pater et al., this week Elon Musk made a pilgrimage to the Uffizi. Tech billionaires are notoriously short of time, but Musk had 90 minutes spare in which he and his partner, the pop star Grimes, packed in the paintings accompanied by the museum’s director, Eike Schmidt.

The Uffizi reports that Musk and Grimes admired works by Beato Angelico and Piero della Francesca, as well as Uccello’s Battle of San Romano and some of the best of Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo. Schmidt joked that when Musk sets up a space station on Mars, the museum will be able to add an interplanetary dimension to its regional loans programme (‘Uffizi diffusi’). Musk might consider blasting off from the Tribuna one day, Rakewell suggests, since the room’s architect, Buontalenti, chose its octagonal form according to numerological symbolism in which the number eight is associated with the heavens.

Perhaps, in return for the tour, Grimes was able to give the Uffizi some tips in marketing its NFTs. Earlier this year, she raked in $5.8 million in 20 minutes by selling her ‘WarNymph Collection Vol. 1’, a suite of works featuring putti far uglier than any babies, winged or otherwise, that the Renaissance managed to dream up. The Uffizi, alas, mustered only €140,000 when it flogged a minted Michelangelo. Too bad his WarNymph frescoes haven’t survived.

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