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Italian minister investigated over 'art theft' resigns

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Italian minister investigated over 'art theft' resigns
Italian rime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her cabinet in 2022. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI/AFP.

Italy's junior culture minister Vittorio Sgarbi quit on Friday following two police investigations, including one involving allegedly stolen art.

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Sgarbi's departure marked the first resignation of a member of the hard-right government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

"I would like to announce here my resignation as deputy secretary," Sgarbi, a well-known art historian and critic, said during a televised appearance in Milan.

The resignation of the 71-year-old, who denies any wrongdoing, caps a tumultuous few months for the official, who has caused controversy in the past by using profanity and making sexist comments during public appearances.

Last month, prosecutors said they were investigating whether a painting Sgarbi owned, allegedly by 17th century artist Rutilio Manetti, had been stolen and modified to hide its origins.

Broadcaster RAI first revealed that Sgarbi's painting was nearly identical to one stolen in 2013. He has professed his innocence, saying there are two paintings and that he has the original.

In a separate case, Italy's antitrust body in October opened an investigation into Sgarbi for allegedly accepting lucrative fees for speaking at cultural events.

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Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper calculated that the deputy minister had pocketed about €300,000 in nine months for appearances.

A video of Sgarbi surfaced this week in which he is seen yelling and swearing at a journalist, saying: "If you die in a traffic accident, I'll be happy."

He apologised for the comments on Friday.

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Paul Rivas 2024/02/04 14:25
Far right? Get over yourself.

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