Silvio Berlusconi’s massive art collection is proving a headache to his heirs after critics slammed it as ‘worthless’.
The former Italian leader and media billionaire, who died aged 86 in June this year, left behind an enormous hoard of 25,000 paintings.
His collection currently rests inside 34,000 square foot warehouse near his mansion in Milan according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. The building also contains a 10-foot-tall marble statue of Mr Berlusconi.
But far from being an artistic treasure trove the paper reports many of the paintings feature images of naked women, bought by Mr Berlusconi from late-night shopping channels – when he often spent between £17,000 and £130,000 in one sitting.
Mr Berlusconi, who was worth around £6billion, was famous for his risqué behaviour and the scandal of his notorious “bunga bunga” sex parties held at his Arcore villa.
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The sordid gatherings came to light in 2010 when he was taken to court and found guilty of paying a 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer for sexual services. The verdict was later overturned on appeal.
Despite the huge quantity of paintings Mr Berlusconi has left behind, the whole collection is thought to be worth around £17.4 million, which works out around £700 per painting.
London-based dealer Cesare Lampronti, who had a close relationship with Mr Berlusconi, said his client often knew what he was buying was ‘worthless’.
He told the BBC: “He liked to buy portraits of women he gave as gifts to friends. When he was younger, he bought at galleries and from dealers, but later in life he bought from TV auctions.
“He knew what he was buying was worthless.”
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According to Italian media reports Mr Berlusconi’s relatives are facing costs of around €800,000 a year to run the warehouse storing his paintings, where a woodworm outbreak has also needed to be treated.
Mr Berlusconi’s 33-year-old girlfriend and five adult children are understood to be deciding what to do with the collection.
La Repubblica reports smoke has been seen rising from the warehouse with the publication speculating if some of the paintings had been torched.
Vittorio Sgarbi, a leading Italian art critic, told the newspaper: “I don’t know whether the destruction of the paintings has started already.
“I do know that, at least from an artistic point of view, it would not be a crime.”
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