Vittorio Sgarbi is in the hot seat. The turbulent Under-Secretary of State for Culture who loves being in the spotlight once again finds himself under fire from critics. The media fire caused by his sexist and obscene remarks made this summer during a debate at the MAXXI museum has barely died down before another one ignites.
This time it is judicial but above all political since his position is now at stake. The daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano revealed the umpteenth scandal involving the art historian who has made Italians more accustomed to his thunderous appearances on television sets than to his presence in museum rooms.
In question this time is his frequentation of auction rooms and the purchase in October 2020 of a painting by Vittorio Zecchin (1878-1947) for 148,000 euros. According to the Rome public prosecutor’s office, Vittorio Sgarbi acquired the work through his partner to remove it from his assets, thus falsifying his income declaration and preventing the tax authorities, who are demanding 715,000 euros from him, from seizing it.
A bill which could soon increase since the Under-Secretary of State is a real glutton for institutional charges (nearly ten) and performances at conferences or various public events – such as the Miss competition Italy – in exchange for generous rewards. The invoices are often issued by a company at the head of which he has placed his secretary. A lure that does not fool the tax administration. Since taking office at the Ministry of Culture, just a year ago, he has received around 300,000 euros, violating a 2004 rule prohibiting any member of the government from engaging in other paid activities. So many facts denounced by an anonymous source within the ministry who also reveals the reimbursement of abnormally inflated expense reports.
This is more than enough for the opposition to demand the resignation of Vittorio Sgarbi as quickly as possible with a motion of censure tabled by the M5S. The person concerned declares “outraged” and scream “to slander. I have always done my duty and I don’t see what anyone can blame me for. I have no reason to leave my position. You can’t believe any gossip started by a crow.”. However, he will have to show more verve to convince Giorgia Meloni who is currently struggling with the difficulties linked to her highly publicized separation from her partner.
The president of the council expressed her irritation and indicated that she would take care of this matter as soon as possible. Vittorio Sgarbi will not be able to count on the support of the Minister of Culture. Gennaro Sangiuliano said he hadn’t spoken to him for days and complained that “imposed this undersecretary on him that he must now get out of trouble”. The situation of the Under-Secretary of State for Culture continues to darken and his days within MIBAC would be numbered.
The multiplication of his activities distracts him from the one that should occupy his overflowing energy: the protection of Italian heritage. In Bologna, the medieval Garisenda tower, symbol of the city with its neighbor Asinelli, is causing concern. The municipality has limited traffic around the monuments because instruments used to measure their stability have revealed an increase in oscillations in recent months. Vittorio Sgarbi only visited the site this week. He too is swaying and hopes not to witness a collapse, whether of his political career or of the Garisenda Tower.