A monument on the island of Lampedusa by the artist Christo and titled "Gateway to Europe" was "packed up" with plastic bags and tape on the night of June 2. Despite wrapping being a signature style of the artist, who died late last month, the move has sparked controversy.
The move was initially interpreted as a tribute to the artist, who died last week in New York. However, local and national authorities subsequently condemned what is now considered an insult to the island's welcoming approach to continuous migrant arrivals.
"It's a petty action that hurts Lampedusa's image, and above all hurts the island's residents," said the mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa, Totò Martello.
"I immediately filed a complaint with the appropriate authorities; I hope those responsible are found. The State must reaffirm its presence on the island, and it must do so including through concrete actions of support to a community that continues to leave that gateway open in the name of respect for human rights, despite enormous sacrifices and despite the fact that some people intend to close it," Martello added.
"The Gateway to Europe is one of the symbols of our island and our community. It is a work known on an international level, and to see it defaced in such a vulgar way is a wound that hurts us and worries us," he said.
The monument on Lampedusa had originally been inaugurated on June 28, 2008, to commemorate the island's accommodating spirit towards migrants.