News Flash: Kevin Spacey and the race to erase uncomfortable art

In the late 1500s, an ancient pagan Roman sculpture of someone or something lost to memory—a philosopher, perhaps, or a god—was transformed into St. Peter, a more agreeable figure in Catholic Rome.

To pull this off, the sculptor added a head, hands, and feet—quite obvious in gilt bronze—and a throne for St. Peter to sit on.

For centuries, this masterpiece-by-transmogrification was displayed in the opulent Roman villa of Cardinal Ludovisi, alongside more famous sculptures such as Bernini’s Pluto and Proserpina. In 2009, it came to Mia.

What does this sculpture have to do with a 2017 film starring Kevin Spacey?

Both underwent drastic transformations. The film All the Money in the Worlddirected by Ridley Scott—showcased Spacey. But since the filming and editing finished, Spacey was swept up in allegations of sexual harassment, making him one more Hollywood persona non grata. In an effort to salvage the big-bucks film, Scott swapped out every Spacey scene in a matter of days for new ones featuring the actor Christopher Plummer.

As Scott said, “You can sit there and let something kill you, or you can take action. I took action.”

Top image: Spacey in the original edit of All the Money in the World (left); the Ludovisi St. Peter, in Mia’s collection, at right.