Madrid enjoys the devil of a row over a fallen angel

THE PRADO museum in Madrid has claimed ownership of the world's only public statue of Satan - the 19th-century "The Fallen Angel" in the city's Retiro Park.

But the city mayor, Jose Maria Alvarez de Manzano, a deeply conservative man with no sympathy for the devil, insists Lucifer belongs to the people of Madrid and will not let it be moved from its present site.

The Prado's claim is part of a controversial attempt to regroup 126 of more than 4,000 works dispersed throughout Spain into its enlarged premises, due to be completed in 2001. But with more than 90 per cent of the museum's treasures stored in vaults out of public view, critics say the museum has enough material already, without plundering much-loved public monuments.

Antonio Solano, a museum curator, said: "The sculpture of `El Angel Caido' belongs to the museum. It was destined for the former Museum of Modern Art, which now forms part of the Cason del Buen Retiro. But as there wasn't room for it, it was lent as an adornment for the Retiro. Now we have decided to remind the city hall that it belongs to the Prado."

A director of monuments at Madrid's town hall denies the image of the devil is the Prado's: "According to our archives, it was donated to the city hall by the Ministry of Works in 1885 and it was decided to put it in the Retiro. Furthermore, it is entered in the inventory of Spanish Historic Heritage of 1992 as municipal property. I don't understand why the Prado is claiming it now. It's always been in the park. What do they want it for?" Mr Alvarez de Manzano has written to the Prado insisting that while he is mayor, the statue stays where it is.

The sculpture, by Ricardo Bellver, stands without any identifying label in the bleaker south-west corner of the Prado, on a site formerly occupied by a porcelain factory.

Nothing more sinister than rollerbladers circulate around an area of the park reputed to be a night-time cruising ground for transvestite prostitutes - but legend has it that nocturnal black masses used to be held in the Satanic presence. Some years ago a failed attempt was made to erect a statue of the Virgin to counteract Lucifer's supposed malevolent influence.

The determination of the city authorities to keep their unique tribute to Satan seems to have had an effect: in recent days, the Prado has said that although it owns the statue, it does not necessarily seek to possess it, leaving open the prospect that the people of Madrid will hold on to the devil they know.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week