UPDATE 4:00 p.m. EST: ArmaLite, Inc., in a statement provided to TheBlaze explained the ad campaign and apologize to the people who were offended:
ArmaLite has recently been made aware that an advertisement utilizing the image of the statue of Michelangelo’s David holding an ArmaLite AR-50A1 rifle was found to be offensive by certain individuals.
ArmaLite deeply regrets offending anyone and certainly had no intention of doing so. The “Work of Art” media campaign was initiated over a year ago, but was removed from circulation when the new ownership of ArmaLite took responsibility for Company direction in July 2013. ArmaLite has been making some of the finest firearms for military, law enforcement and commercial applications for 60 years and was the inventor of the AR platform of sporting rifles.
In fact, AR stands for ArmaLite. Mark Johnson, the chief executive officer of Strategic Armory Corps, LLC, the current owner of ArmaLite stated, “I believe that an advertisement utilizing an altered photograph of a masterpiece such as David is in poor taste. We deeply regret that ArmaLite offended anyone by this media campaign, which we ended upon our acquisition of the Company. We will make every effort to be sure that any remnants from the campaign are removed from the public”.
Italy’s government is outraged over a U.S. small arms manufacturer's advertisement depicting Michelangelo's David holding a rifle.
Dario Franceschini, Italy's culture minister, called the ArmaLite ad “offensive” and said it “violated the law,” the BBC reported.
It's one in a series of similar advertisements using the "work of art" tagline:
Franceschini has called on ArmaLite to withdraw the ad.
"The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law. We will take action against the American company so that it immediately withdraws its campaign,” he said in a translated tweet.
And he’s not alone in his outrage.
Cristina Acidini, the curator of the Historical Heritage and Fine Arts Board, issued ArmaLite legal notice demanding that the American gun company withdraw the image. The Italian government said that it owns the rights to commercial uses of the image of the Renaissance masterpiece.
[sharequote align="center"]"We will take action against the American company."[/sharequote]
The director of Florence's Accademia Gallery, where the statue is currently on display, told Repubblica newspaper: "The law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be distorted."
"In this case, not only is the choice in bad taste but also completely illegal,” said Angelo Tartuferi.
An ArmaLite representative did not immediately respond to TheBlaze's request for comment.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter