The days of the Italian undersecretary of state for culture are numbered

Rome. Vittorio Sgarbi resigned on February 2 with a bang from his post as Italian undersecretary of state for culture. It could not be otherwise for the histrionic art critic who is particularly fond of invective on television sets. This time he favored the pages of Italian daily newspapers to settle scores with the Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano. “A man without dignity”keeps repeating Vittorio Sgarbi who criticizes him for having favored the “media persecution” of which he considers himself the victim.

The head of the Ministry of Culture, for his part, declared “outraged by the behavior” from his undersecretary of state after receiving an anonymous letter in the fall of 2023 revealing a multitude of activities that kept him away from his ministerial office. The bustling Vittorio Sgarbi travels the Peninsula, multiplying exhibition inaugurations, book presentations and conferences. So many generously paid trips. No less than 7,000 euros for a presence of around two hours at an exhibition and 200 euros per minute for a “lectio magistralis” on Caravaggio. In the space of nine months, Vittorio Sgarbi would have received more than 300,000 euros, violating a 2004 rule which prohibits any member of the government from exercising other paid activities.

A unanimous opposition to welcome his departure

The Minister of Culture immediately transmitted the letter from the famous crow, who turns out to be a former collaborator of Sgarbi, to the Italian competition policeman, who opened an investigation. The undersecretary of state decided to leave his post before being forced to do so. The procedure concluded with the denunciation of“a conflict of interest incompatible with the exercise of a government function“. The main person concerned then went to the press to denounce “a stupid decision which criminalizes (s)we activity”. In his resignation letter addressed to the President of the Italian Council, Giorgia Meloni, he considers himself to be the target “political correctness which targets what has been (s)life for fifty years” and complains: “I cannot be myself while engaging in activities that are in no way inconsistent with my former position and in no way violate the law. » The vituperative art critic does not just defend himself but goes on the attack. He threatened to take the matter to the administrative court and demanded that an investigation also be opened to verify that other members of the government were not affected by a conflict of interest.

The opposition, which had tabled a motion of censure against him, is exultant. “It was the first good thing he ever did,” she comments in unison, recalling that Sgarbi is also the target of an investigation for laundering stolen goods. A dark affair of a 17th century painting exhibited after having been previously modified in order to hide its illicit origin. Other revelations could soon give rise to new scandals such as those coming from one of his former drivers who declared having acquired for him a painting by Valentin de Boulogne for 10,000 euros in cash before having it valued at 5 million euros .

To defend himself from these accusations, Vittorio Sgarbi, isolated, cannot count on any support within the executive of which he was a part or from the Italian right of which he is nevertheless one of the emblematic figures. Giorgia Meloni simply took note of his departure and did not hide her irritation in private. The President of the Council is not considering replacing him. She would prefer to appoint an undersecretary of state to strengthen the Ministry of Institutional Reforms in the midst of launching a delicate modification of the Constitution. A reshuffle is already being discussed after the European elections next June. It could concern Daniela Santanchè, the extravagant and controversial Minister of Tourism, targeted by a judicial investigation concerning serious irregularities in the management of her companies, some of which operate in the tourism sector. Another conflict of interest within the Meloni government criticized by the opposition.

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