Marcello Dell’Utri, a close Silvio Berlusconi buddy, or at least he was – they appear to have fallen out – aside from being, allegedly, Berlusconi’s ‘mafia liaison officer’, stands accused of embezzlement in connection with the theft of rare and valuable books from one of Italy’s most prestigious libraries.
Whether the roguish Dell’Utri will have the book thrown at him for his part in the book stealing antics, is not yet known.
During the period when rare books were going walkies, Dell’Utri also happened to be a member of Italy’s senate! Well, being of good character has never been a requirement for entering politics in Italy. If anything, the opposite seems to be true.
Dell’Utri is being investigated for having received numerous books of inestimable value from Naples’ Girolamini library. Some 1,500 volumes have been spirited away and six persons have been arrested including the library’s director, one Marino Massimo De Caro, who was also an adviser to Italy’s cultural heritage ministry – he also qualifies as a rogue. Yet another person of good character, er, not.
Interpol became involved in the dodgy book dealing case when attempts where made to prevent books from the Girolamini library leaving Italy and, presumably, disappearing into the ether. Books from the Girolamini collection have turned up in auctions in the UK and Germany.
Someone was making money out the this crooked little venture. The books which were removed were worth somewhere in the region of €20 million according to an article on the affair on an Italian Book Lovers website. Thank heavens Italy’s forces of law and order actually found out about the walking books before they had all disappeared.
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Dell’Utri claims some of the books were given to him by the Girolamini library’s dodgy director De Caro and he has given some back, though he can’t find others, or so he says.
For being suspected of involvement in the theft of Italy’s cultural heritage and giving Italian politics even more of a bad name, ex-Italian senator Marcello Dell’Utri earns himself the title of Italy Chronicles’ Italian Rogue of the Week. He’s a bit of a book worm, don’t you think? 😉
The Girolamini library book theft case is making Italy think twice about who it appoints to look after its cultural heritage. About time too. The case is due to come to court this month.
Read more about Italy’s rouges here: Italian Rogues – an ever growing list!
Photo credit: Vincenzo Iaconianni