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Most expensive new book arrives in NY from Italy

Most expensive new book arrives in NY from Italy


Published: Today


NEW YORK (AP) - It's billed as the world's most expensive, most beautiful new book.

Costing well over $100,000, a 62-pound handmade tome depicting the life and work of Michelangelo has arrived at the New York Public Library, fresh from publication in Italy.

The velvet- and marble-bound book will go on public display next Tuesday.

"I did it because I'm a crazy woman!" joked Marilena Ferrari, the Italian publisher who produced the extravagance; each book takes six months to craft, using Italian artisan skills dating to the Renaissance.

"I love books," she said in a telephone interview from Bologna, Italy, where she's president of a company called FMR, which publishes fine books about art.

"This book is meant as a provocation," she said. "Books are being destroyed by the Internet, they're losing their identity - it's the modern, Internet version of burning books. Today, things last so little before they disappear. "

To make her point, the Michelangelo book has a 500-year warranty - as long as his art has lasted.

Titled "La Dotta Mano," meaning "the learned hand," the book has a front cover made of white marble from Michelangelo's favorite quarry, in Carrara.

The binding is covered with a red silk velvet handmade by the same shop in southern Italy as the main stage curtains at The Metropolitan Opera and Milan's Teatro Alla Scala.

The display book was donated to the New York Public Library, a second to the Prado musem in Madrid and a third to the city of Bologna. In addition, more than 20 books have been sold so far to buyers around Europe and as far away as Malaysia, Ferrari said.

The price is 100,000 euros, which was $155,000 when the first tome was finished last spring. It was a deal on Tuesday - about $130,000 at the current exchange rate.

The text was written by Michelangelo biographer Giorgio Vasari, with an essay about the art by the director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci. The words are printed on paper crafted by one of Italy's oldest paper mills, where Picasso bought paper for his art.

The book is filled with photographs of Michelangelo's drawings and sculptures - creations from the Sistine Chapel ceiling to his very personal poetry.

The book is filled with photographs of Michelangelo's sculptures and plates of his drawings, plus images of other creations, from the Sistine Chapel ceiling to his very personal poetry.

Michael Inman, the library's curator of rare books, said that "for centuries to come, this is a wonderful example of how books were once made - with attention to details like binding."

When not on display, the book will be stored near the library's Gutenberg Bible and other priceless books in a climate-controlled vault.

The public can see "La Dotta Mano" from Tuesday morning through Dec. 8.


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