Italian deputy minister resigned after riot over stolen painting

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EPA
Deputy Minister of Culture Vittorio Sgarbi and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy

NOS Newstoday, 8:57 PM

Italian Deputy Minister of Culture and art critic Vittorio Sgarbi has resigned. The 71-year-old parliamentarian has been under pressure for weeks to resign due to a scandal surrounding a stolen painting. He said he resigned for another reason, namely to avoid a conflict of interest.

In addition to the stolen art case, there is another investigation into Sgarbi. The politician is said to have accepted hundreds of thousands of euros in fees for performances at cultural events.

At the time Sgarbi announced his resignation, he was also giving a lecture at an art fair in Rome. “According to the authorities, I should not be involved in this, but only in administrative and limited tasks,” he said. During the speech he said nothing about the investigation into the stolen art.

Stolen painting

The politician, who is tasked with protecting the country’s cultural heritage, is accused of art theft. He is said to own a stolen painting from the 17th century. This came to light through a report on Italian television.

It’s about the artwork La cattura di San Pietro (The Captivity of Saint Peter) by the Italian painter Rutilio Manetti. The painting was stolen from a castle near Turin in 2013. The work was found at Sgarbi after the broadcast and was seized by officers.

He is accused of ordering the painting to be edited: a candle was added in the top left corner after the theft, probably to disguise its provenance. Sgarbi denies that he did anything wrong.

  • Report/RAI

    The artwork is in its original condition
  • Report/RAI

    This would be the artwork after editing, probably commissioned by Sgarbi

A few days after the broadcast, another accusation was added. Sgarbi is said to have illegally exported a painting by the French artist Valentin de Boulogne. The work of art, worth 5 million euros, was seized in Monte Carlo.

Sgarbi says it is a copy and that it was not his. “I have nothing to fear. I will defend myself in any way I can,” Sgarbi responded.

It is the second time in a short time that an official of the Meloni government has been embarrassed. At the beginning of this month, she decided to suspend a politician from her radical right-wing party Fratelli d’Italia.

He brought a gun to a New Year’s party, which accidentally went off and injured someone. The politician denied having fired the weapon, but refused to have the gunpowder residue tested. Local prosecutors are investigating the case.

The article is in Netherlands

Tags: Italian deputy minister resigned riot stolen painting

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