Minister Sangiuliano against Vittorio Sgarbi: “I didn’t want it”

Outraged“. This is what the Minister of Culture professes Gennaro Sangiuliano regarding yet another scandal that puts the spotlight on the undersecretary Vittorio Sgarbi, investigated in Rome for tax evasion, with missed payments reaching the figure of 715 thousand euros. The story was revealed by the pages of Fatto Quotidiano, which does the math in the pocket of the art historian and politician from Ferrara, detailing the conduct that would have most annoyed the minister, linked to the events and paid activities from which Sgarbi usually benefits: from the beginning of 2023, the undersecretary would have cashed in 300 thousand euros in consultancy, presentations and exhibitions; for the Anti-Corruption Authority, he defends himself, these “disclosure activities” would not however be incompatible with the role he holds at the Ministry.

Vittorio Sgarbi

Sangiuliano against Sgarbi on Fatto Quotidiano

But the first to not think so is Sangiuliano himself, who in the aftermath of these revelations gives a very harsh interview to Thomas Mackinson, still on the Done: “I didn’t know anything about the consultancy, I already warned Meloni”, underlines the minister. The real thrust, however, is concentrated in a phrase as cryptic as it is unequivocal: “After all, I didn’t want Sgarbi. I try to keep him at a distance and fix his problems”. In this regard, it is enough to mention only the latest of the “misunderstandings” at the top of the MiC (not to mention the countless slips of dubious taste in recent months, from the declarations against the foreign directors to sexist phrases, from which he promptly defended himself, even on the pages of Artribute): just a few weeks ago, Sgarbi belittled the competition held to choose the next curator and artist Italian Pavilion of the Biennale, ruling in advance against the appointment of Massimo Bartolini by Luca Cerizza, both of whom were instead confirmed in their respective roles by the Ministry. While yet another controversy is very recent, this time promoted by Sgarbi, president of Ferrara Arte, which led to the cancellation of the exhibition on Robert Mapplethorpe scheduled at Palazzo dei Diamanti for spring 2024: the title was too explicit (Flowers and dicks) proposed by the art historian was not liked by the Mapplethorpe Foundation, which now denies authorization.

Antitrust investigations

Regarding the collateral activities of his undersecretary – to tell the truth never kept hidden by the interested party, who also boasts a large number of more or less institutional positions, not least the position of mayor of Arpino, in Lower Lazio – Sangiuliano explains that “I saw him around doing inaugurations, exhibitions and so on. But I never would have thought that he would charge for these things”. It’s still: “I am responsible for my behavior, the task of supervision is not mine but the judiciary. And I certainly can’t know everything Sgarbi is up to. I see him once every three months also because, to tell the truth, I keep him at a distance from me, I want to have to deal with him as little as possible”. But also, regarding the conduct of the undersecretary in the exercise of his functions: “He goes around promising unattainable things. He announces purchases of buildings and things by the ministry which only has 20 million in the budget to purchase goods. And then afterwards I have to go and explain to the newspapers that this thing doesn’t exist, that it can’t be done, that there is a procedure, that the laws must be respected, that everything must be done with the State Property Agency. If I make the list of things that he says we need to buy, we have to spend 1 billion that the State doesn’t have”. Therefore, the minister himself would have involved theAntitrustso that you can check, “if that paid activity is against the law. It seems so to me, and in fact as soon as I learned about the matter on Friday, I took all the papers and sent them immediately”.
The gap – in the face of a relationship of trust that seems to have never existed – therefore appears irreparable. What to expect from the next chapter of the saga? Sgarbi’s response will certainly not be long in arriving. Or, directly, that of Meloni.

Livia Montagnoli

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