“Michelangelo: La Dotta Mano” (“The Wise Hand”), is an over-the-top volume of photographs of this Renaissance master’s sculptures and. It is probably “the most beautiful book in the world” and also one of the most expensive, with its retail price of 100,000 euros, (around $155,000).
Using the high standards of the privately published books in the 19th as a starting point, the book’s publisher, Gruppo FMR, sought expert artisans from various fields to create something described as “a work of art in itself.”
Aurelio Amendola’s black-and-white photographs were printed on paper made exclusively for the project. There are detachable reproductions of Michelangelo drawings on handmade folios created according to centuries-old traditions.
And then there’s the cover: a scale reproduction in marble of the “Madonna della Scala”, a bas-relief of the Virgin and Child sculptured by Michelangelo when he was still in his teens.
Six marble sculptors are working on the first 33 limited edition copies. The marble cover was the trickiest aspect of production. “It was difficult to find the right depth, we broke a lot of slabs along the way” said Mr Tamar, the project’s production manager.
Delivered in a sleek black box, the book’s cover is a scale reproduction in marble of the “Madonna della Scala” (“Madonna of the Steps”). It also comes with it’s own stand and a 500-year guarantee.
This isn’t the most expensive book ever made. There are books incorporating precious metals or gemstones that increase the price, like “Dancing With the Bear,” which comes in a diamond-encrusted “special oligarch” edition that ranges in price from $1 million to $6 million.
Luxury publishing in general seems to be on the upswing. “From my experience, it’s growing. There are a certain amount of people who are testing how far the market can be pushed,” said Ovais Naqvi, chief executive of Gloria, a new luxury publisher.