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The latest art world silliness: Deborah de Robertis charged with ‘sexual exhibitionism’; Beckham’s painting debut; was the Mona Lisa sick?

Courtesy: Deborah de Robertis

Courtesy: Deborah de Robertis

The sacred Sanctuary of Lourdes, in France – famous for its healing properties – is visited by millions each year. But officers called to the scene on Saturday were met with an unexpected sight: performance artist Deborah de Robertis posing nude under a blue veil, hands held in prayer, next to shrine’s statue of the Virgin Mary. Police opted to arrest the artist on charges of ‘sexual exhibitionism’ rather than hail the act as another of Lourdes’s famous miracles. Meanwhile De Robertis – well known for bringing her nude performances to museums such as the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay – has defended her performance: ‘With this gesture of nakedness, I incarnate the apparition of the Virgin with my woman’s body, living and in the flesh’.

The Beckhams’s creeping takeover of the art world continues. After Posh Spice partnered up with auction house Sotheby’s in June, selecting her favourite Old Masters to show in her Mayfair boutique, now it’s David’s (admittedly low-key) turn. The celebrity footballer has submitted a postcard-sized painting to be auctioned off at an Aberdeenshire church. The authors have been kept secret until the auction closes, so we’re still raring to find out if he’s got his son’s gift.

In these times, not much can be said to be certain, apart from the comforting reliability of yet another Mona Lisa theory. A doctor has offered his diagnosis of the woman who sat for the painting, saying that she was sick. The absence of eyebrows, puffed neck and receding hair line indicate ‘an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism’, Mandeep R. Mehra, MD, medical director of the Heart & Vascular Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, claims. He helpfully added: ‘it is the allure of the imperfections of disease that give this masterpiece its mysterious reality and charm.’ It’s still not quite up there with Jonathan Jones’s suggestion last year that the model – assumed by most to be Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine merchant – had syphilis.