Vatican Museums chief in art deal probe

The head of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, has been put under investigation for alleged abuse of office over contracts awarded while he ran Florence’s top museums, including the world-famous Uffizi Gallery.


The investigation focuses on a 2006 deal to insure works of art which were sent abroad for international exhibitions.

The contracts were allegedly awarded to insurance company Axa-art, allegedly without the necessary call for tenders for deals over €50,000.

Paolucci signed the contract which was later approved by the new director of Florence Museums (Polo Museale Fiorentino), Cristina Acidini.

The Polo Museale Fiorentino sites include the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Pitti and the Accademia Gallery which houses Michelangelo’s David statue.

A second investigation is underway into the low prices allegedly offered to hire the Boboli Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for classical music concerts.

Both Acidini and Paolucci, a former culture minister, are now being investigated for abuse of office. The Florence Museums secretary, Marco Fossi, is also said to be under investigation along with an agent from Axa-art.

Acidini on Monday announced her resignation, which she said had been submitted on September 5th as a result of government reforms rather than the police probe.

Her lawyer, Nino D’Avirro, said the outgoing museum chief denied she was guilty of wrongdoing. “No advantage was given by her nor by others investigated, who have acted exclusively in the public interest for institutional purposes,” he was quoted in La Stampa as saying.

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