The painting of a black Virgin Mary beside lumps of elephant dung so offended then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani that he sued to remove it from the Brooklyn Museum almost two decades ago.

 Now “The Holy Virgin Mary” by Chris Ofili is entering the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art as a gift from billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.

The canvas stirred controversy at the Brooklyn Museum during the 1999 “Sensation” exhibition of works by the Young British Artists from the collection of advertising mogul Charles Saatchi. Giuliani criticized Ofili’s painting as an affront to Catholics. The work remained on display for the show’s duration, amid a First Amendment legal battle, and Giuliani ultimately abandonedhis efforts to evict the museum and cut its city financing. Read more