Italy’s youngest culture minister has resigned amid allegations of laundering stolen goods, which he denies.
Vittorio Sgarbi announced this before the start of the lecture in Milan, saying he was leaving his job “to avoid a conflict of interest”.
Prosecutors are investigating allegations that renowned art critic Sgarbi stole and altered a 17th-century painting.
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“The Capture of Saint Peter” was reported stolen in 2013.
The painting by Rutilio Manetti, a follower of the Baroque master Caravaggio, was once on display in a palace in the northern Italian region of Piedmont.
Mr. Sgarbi is accused of altering the painting by adding a candle in the upper corner, possibly to hide its origin.
The politician says that he found work while restoring the villa that his mother bought more than 20 years ago. He says that the painting is an original, while the one stolen in 2013 was a copy.
The allegations emerged in an investigation by Italian broadcaster Rai’s Report.
The owner of the palace, who reported the theft of the painting, told journalists that the canvas was cut out of the frame in 2013.
She also said that a friend of Mr. Sgarbi had previously visited the property and expressed interest in purchasing the work.