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Vatican Museums chief in art deal probe

The head of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, has been put under investigation for alleged abuse of office over contracts awarded while he ran Florence’s top museums, including the world-famous Uffizi Gallery.

Vatican Museums chief in art deal probe
The head of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, has been put under investigation for alleged abuse of office. Photo: Sailko

The investigation focuses on a 2006 deal to insure works of art which were sent abroad for international exhibitions, La Stampa reported.

The contracts were allegedly awarded to insurance company Axa-art, allegedly without the necessary call for tenders for deals over €50,000.

Paolucci signed the contract which was later approved by the new director of Florence Museums (Polo Museale Fiorentino), Cristina Acidini, the newspaper said.

The Polo Museale Fiorentino sites include the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Pitti and the Accademia Gallery which houses Michelangelo’s David statue.

A second investigation is underway into the low prices allegedly offered to hire the Boboli Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for classical music concerts.

Both Acidini and Paolucci, a former culture minister, are now being investigated for abuse of office. The Florence Museums secretary, Marco Fossi, is also said to be under investigation along with an agent from Axa-art.

Acidini on Monday announced her resignation, which she said had been submitted on September 5th as a result of government reforms rather than the police probe.

Her lawyer, Nino D’Avirro, said the outgoing museum chief denied she was guilty of wrongdoing. “No advantage was given by her nor by others investigated, who have acted exclusively in the public interest for institutional purposes,” he was quoted in La Stampa as saying. 

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FLORENCE

British man found dead in Florence hotel named as ex-rugby league player

A man found dead in a hotel room in Florence was named by Italian media on Sunday as British former rugby league player Ricky Bibey.

British man found dead in Florence hotel named as ex-rugby league player

A man was found dead on Saturday in the Hotel Continentale after a woman he was with cried out for help, according to unconfirmed media reports.

Italian news outlets have identified the victim as Ricky Bibey, a two-time Challenge Cup winner with Wigan Warriors and St Helens. Police have yet to confirm the dead man’s identity.

Super League tweeted it was “saddened to hear of the passing of Ricky Bibey”.

“We thank Ricky for his contributions to the game and send our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends during this time”.

A maid rushed in to find the 43-year old woman bleeding heavily from serious injuries, and she was rushed to hospital, La Nazione daily newspaper said.

Bibey, 40, appeared to have died of a heart attack, it said.

Other guests at the Continentale, just next to the Tuscan city’s famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, reportedly heard shouts coming from the room.

Police seized objects including items possibly used in an erotic game, La Nazione said.

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