Page last updated at 09:49 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 10:49 UK

Berlusconi in breast cover-up row

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, during a press conference in Rome, standing in front of a copy of Tiepolo's La Verita Svelata dal Tempo (The Truth Unveiled by Time)
The breast was deemed to be a distraction for TV audiences

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is well known as an admirer of beautiful women - yet an exposed breast has embroiled him in a new row.

A copy of a painting by 18th-Century Venetian master Gianbattista Tiepolo, on full display during Mr Berlusconi's press conferences, has been retouched.

The woman in Tiepolo's painting now has some drapery hiding her bare breast.

"That breast, that nipple... ends up right inside the frame captured by TV news," Mr Berlusconi's spokesman said.

An art critic and former undersecretary for culture in a previous Berlusconi administration, Vittorio Sgarbi, voiced outrage at the decision.

"What have they done? I can't believe it. They're crazy," he told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Asked to comment on the new-look Tiepolo, Mr Berlusconi's spokesman Paolo Bonaiuti said: "It was an initiative by those on the presidential staff who look after Berlusconi's image".

The painting is a copy of Tiepolo's La Verita Svelata dal Tempo (The Truth Unveiled by Time).

Mr Berlusconi built up his massive fortune partly on the success of TV variety shows featuring scantily clad women.

He has also spoken admiringly about the female form on several occasions.

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