Armaroli said the article “reports facts that never happened.” He said Scripta Maneant has the right to sue if the “defamatory accusations” are not immediately withdrawn.
Another company involved in the controversy is Museum Masters International (MMI), which markets and licenses the work of many famous artists, including for art merchandise sold at prominent art museum gift shops.
Marilyn Goldberg, president and founder of Museum Masters International, said that her organization had worked through Speno to secure legal permission to use the photos of Vatican artworks from Scripta Maneant.
The organization waited for months for this permission, which never came. It then ended its working relationship with Speno.
“We do not agree with any language” of the Daily Wire article or have “anything to do with” the actions alleged in it, Goldberg said in a statement.
According to Goldberg, Speno recently advised MMI that she intended to send an international press release about Scripta Maneant, the Vatican Museum, and immersive exhibit operators she alleges are using Vatican images without permission.
When the company learned of this plan it wanted to clarify that it was not involved.
Speno responded in a Dec. 15 statement to CNA, saying “despite exhaustive due diligence on my part and by others, Scripta Maneant has at no time provided evidence of their documented authority to license images of artworks, including of the Sistine Chapel, owned by the Vatican.”
“As with any jurisdiction or country, there are always ‘bad actors’ to avoid, who pretend they own legal rights for exploitation commercially,” she added. “It is clear to me that Scripta and MMI/Marilyn Goldberg are acting collaboratively and have issued their respective statements in an attempt to exculpate Scripta Maneant from any exposure to the Vatican.”
Depicting the two companies’ statements as a collaboration, Speno added: “It is also clear that MMI/Marilyn Goldberg believes, today, that collaborating with Scripta Maneant, clearly a ‘bad actor,’ is in their best interests.”
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Goldberg said that Speno had told MMI that in her work for them she had identified Scripta Maneant as the official party for rights negotiation and demanded MMI not speak directly with the publishing house while she completed negotiation for exclusive worldwide rights for an immersive exhibit.
“It appeared she tried to sell the rights we were guaranteed for our company alone, to someone else who we do not know,” said Goldberg, adding that her company had “never received any definition” of the other party.
“However she only got involved with us and demanded representation in order to secure our sole and exclusive rights and she never did,” Goldberg said.
Speno told CNA: “At no time did I extort nor did I seek to acquire a power of attorney from MMI/Marilyn Goldberg.” She characterized her work for MMI as an attorney “primarily in the capacity of performing due diligence in connection with a search for, and legal confirmation of, certain high-resolution digital images of artworks, paintings, and objects in particular the images collection of The Sistine Chapel — all as owned by the Vatican.”
Speno told the Daily Wire that Scripta Maneant had asked up to $550,000 for the rights, with part of this going to the Vatican through Nicolini. In remarks to the Daily Wire, Nicolini strongly denied handling any funds.
In his statement on behalf of Scripta Maneant, Armoli noted that the agreement concerned up to 40 new exhibitions in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. His numbers diverge somewhat from Speno’s report: He said the proposed agreement was for 550,000 euros, about $584,000.