Vittorio Sgarbi, a prominent minister of state and art critic in Italy, has resigned from his post amid accusations of laundering stolen goods, which he denies. The resignation statement came before the start of a lecture in Milan, where he stated that he was leaving his position “to avoid a conflict of interest.”
Investigation of a seventeenth-century painting
Prosecutors are currently investigating allegations that Saghirbi stole and altered a 17th-century painting titled “The Arrest of Saint Peter,” which was reported stolen in 2013. The painting, by Rutilio Manetti, a follower of the Baroque master Caravaggio, was on display in a museum. Castle in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.
Accusations of changes in the original work
The accusations indicate that Al-Saghirbi tampered with the painting by adding a candle to the upper corner to hide its source. However, the politician claims he found the work while renovating a villa his mother bought more than 20 years ago. Furthermore, he asserts that the painting in his possession is the original and that the painting stolen in 2013 was a copy.
Other charges related to works of art
The minister also faces charges relating to another work: a painting attributed to French artist Valentin de Boulogne, worth €5m (£4.3m), which was confiscated by police in Monte Carlo. The Public Prosecutor is investigating Al-Saghirbi on charges of illegally exporting the painting. However, he claims it is a copy and that it never belonged to him.
These accusations appeared on an Italian television program
These accusations came to light during an investigation conducted by the Italian television program “Report”. The owner of the castle who reported the theft of the painting stated that the painting had been cut from the frame in 2013. Furthermore, she reported that a friend of Sughrabi had previously visited the property and expressed interest in purchasing the painting.
These series of accusations led to Saghirbi’s resignation to avoid a potential conflict of interest while the investigations continued.
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