Louvre Calls in Lawyers Over Pornhub’s Hardcore Re-Enactments

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

ROME—Long before hairless strangers were streaming loveless sex to lonely device-wielders, European classic artists were painting scintillating scenes that were quite lewd even by today’s standards. At least that’s what Pornhub would like would-be adult-entertainment consumers to think as it launches its new “Show Me the Nudes” interactive website and app.

Classic masterpieces from some of Europe’s top museums are recreated by porn stars who then come to life, which in the case of Venus of Urbino—a centerpiece of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence—means Venus will suddenly start masturbating and, in the depiction of Male Nude, Degas’ celebrated dick pic featured at the Met quickly evolves into a full blow job.

Each recreation, performed by pornographic actors from the adult entertainment troupe My Sweet Apple, comes with an explanation that you won’t find in any art-history textbooks. “As a handy rule, anything you see in a classic nude painting that isn’t obviously kinky… is still definitely meant to represent something kinky,” the caption under Venus of Urbino claims.

They then go on to decipher what Italian Renaissance painter Titian really intended by placing the red flower in Venus’ hand above her lady parts. “The rumpled sheets are supposed to make this untouchable goddess of love feel like flesh and blood—and pretty much as scruffy as we are,” the explanation reads. “Also, the fact that this Venus is so nonchalant about displaying all the godly goods—despite the room being weirdly busy for a spot of naked lounging—gives the scene an extra erotic charge.”

There is little doubt that the clever app will bring these masterpieces to a whole new audience by marrying two worlds that might not generally engage, but European museum directors aren’t so sure they want their precious masterpieces to be exploited as such, especially when they can charge more noble entities thousands to license the artwork. Both the Louvre and Uffizi say they are suing Pornhub for rights infringements, demanding them to remove reproductions of the works that are displayed in the flesh in their museums.

The Uffizi in Florence has issued a legal warning to Pornhub over the rights of its art. “No one has granted authorizations for the operation or use of the art,” an Uffizi spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “In Italy, the cultural heritage code provides that in order to use images of a museum, compressed works for commercial purposes, it is necessary to have the permission, which regulates the methods and sets the relative fee to be paid. All this obviously if the museum grants the authorization which, for example, would hardly have been issued in this case.”

Likewise, the Louvre, where the masterpiece Gabrielle d’Estrees and One of Her Sisters by an unknown artist hangs (and which is described on the porn site as a “medieval titty-twister”), has lobbed legal action for the unauthorized use of its works. A spokesperson for the Louvre told The Daily Beast that “Pornhub has heard from our lawyers. We expect the works to be removed at once.”

The artworks featured in the first edition of the site are from the National Gallery in London, the Uffizi in Florence, the Prado in Madrid, and the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay in Paris. Developers plan to expand the collection if the first round is successful. The launch was narrated by Italian pornographic actress Cicciolina (real name Ilona Staller), whose video re-enactment of Botticelli’s Venus quickly morphs into a lively orgy. No stranger to the art world, Cicciolina was once married to artist Jeff Koons, with whom she collaborated on a series of raunchy sculptures and photographs that scandalized the 1990 Venice Biennale

American adult-film actress Asa Akira, who is the Classic Nudes brand ambassador, posted her enthusiasm for the project on her Instagram page. “Let me help you skip all of the boring paintings like The Mona Lisa and go straight to the pervy stuff at The Louvre, Museo del Prado, Musee d’Orsay, The Met, and more,” she wrote. “With the @pornhub ClassicNudes mobile site, you can tour the museums with audio commentary by ME! I learned more French recording this than I did in five years of high school. Yes, five.”

Each of the museums included on the site features maps where kinky tourists can go see the art in person. Each one has Pornhub’s version of the artistic representation, like the Uffizi’s 16th-century Angelica Hides From Ruggiero by Giovanni Bilivert, which Pornhub says “brings to life a secret dream of any woman who has found herself unable to shake off the unwanted attention of your standard bar-douche.”

While hard to know if that’s what Bilivert really intended, it is hard to believe he would have described it like this: “Not content with simply doing a good deed, he decides he’s got a thing for Angelica too and—in a totally not cool move—strips off and tries to show her the little orc in his pants.”

The writers at Pornhub are trying to be politically correct, to be sure, especially when depicting this scene of attempted rape. “She promptly uses her get-out-of-male-free card to make her escape, leaving old Ruggie all alone with nothing but his dirty thoughts,” the description says. “And if the image of a creepy man, standing confused and humiliated in the forest with his sad and floppy wang in his hand isn’t art, then we don’t know what is.”


Read more at The Daily Beast.

Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here

Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!

Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.