ATTENTION NAME DROPPERS

IS A BATTERED CUPID REALLY BY MICHELANGELO? DID SHAKESPEARE WRITE A FUNERALL ELEGIE? AND HOW MUCH DOES IT ALL MATTER?

THE LITTLE STATUE OF A NAKED Cupid blushed unseen, or largely so, for some 90 years in the same spot: a mansion on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue designed by Stanford White. In the 1950s the building was sold to the French government and became a quasi-public space entered daily by employees and visitors. There the Cupid still stood, looking like nothing more than a piece of Gilded Age gimcrackery.

Last week the selfsame statue had velvet ropes placed around it as protection from a throng of photographers. Flashbulbs popped, TV lights poured out their bluish-white certification of celebrity. If marble could think,...

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