Vittorio Sgarbi resigns

Vittorio Sgarbi ended up giving in. The sulphurous Secretary of State for Culture announced his resignation yesterday Friday February 2 in the setting he loves most, that of a television show. He indicated that his decision took effect immediately and that he would notify in writing “in the next few hours” the president of the government, Giorgia Meloni. The pressure had become too strong even for this polemicist art historian known for his excesses and his disrespectful attitude to both conventions and Institutions. But what he was accused of went well this time beyond the filthy remarks belched on a television set.

Since last fall, he has already been the target of a procedure by the Italian competition watchdog who suspects him of having paid for his services as a speaker, an activity prohibited for people belonging to the executive. It would have allowed him to earn around 300,000 euros in various fees as a speaker or presenter of books or exhibitions.

But it is a much more serious matter which will have overcome his feeling of impunity. The public prosecutor’s office in Macerata in central Italy has opened an investigation into the laundering of stolen goods. Vittorio Sgarbi is suspected of having exhibited a painting previously modified in order to hide its illicit origin. A 17th century painting by the painter Rutilio Manetti stolen in 2013.

The now former Secretary of State for Culture leaves his post by attacking his supervisory minister Gennaro Sangiuliano with whom he has no longer had any contact since October 23. He criticizes him in particular for his complacency towards those who have “sent anonymous letters criminalizing his activity as a speaker. I am the victim of obvious media persecution based on facts that do not exist. It was a specific action that was intended to make me resign”. A withdrawal primarily demanded by the opposition which had tabled a motion of censure against him.

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