Berlusconi’s ‘worthless’ art collection causing problems for heirs
October 20, 2023 | by b1og.net
The late Silvio Berlusconi’s extensive art collection has become a source of frustration for his heirs, as one of Italy’s leading art critics has deemed the majority of the 25,000 paintings as “worthless.” Berlusconi, who passed away in June, acquired many of these works from late-night telesales programs, raising eyebrows in the art world. The collection, housed in a massive warehouse near his mansion in Milan, consists of various paintings, including images of Madonnas, naked women, and cityscapes. However, according to the critic, only a handful of the artworks hold any artistic value. The entire collection is estimated to be worth around €20 million (£17.4 million), with each painting averaging just €800. The burden of managing and preserving this collection, including exterminating woodworms that have already caused damage, has proven to be a costly and cumbersome endeavor for the heirs.
When it comes to art collections, few can rival the late Silvio Berlusconi’s vast assortment of paintings and sculptures. However, this impressive collection has come under fire from prominent art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, who claims that the majority of the artworks are of poor quality and hold little to no value. With an estimated worth of €20 million, the management of this extensive collection has become a significant challenge for Berlusconi’s heirs. From handling the sheer size of the collection to dealing with the cost of maintaining the warehouse and addressing the damages caused by woodworms, the burdens are mounting. In this article, we will delve into the background of Silvio Berlusconi’s art collection, examine the criticism it has faced, explore the challenges faced by his heirs, and discuss the implications of these factors.
Background on Silvio Berlusconi
Berlusconi’s vast art collection
Silvio Berlusconi’s art collection comprises a staggering 25,000 paintings and sculptures. The former Italian prime minister, who passed away in June, acquired many of these artworks through late-night telesales programs. The collection encompasses a wide range of subjects, including paintings of Madonnas, vivid depictions of nude women, and cityscapes of Paris, Naples, and Venice. However, despite the expansive size of the collection, Sgarbi believes that the majority of the artworks are of low quality, dismissing them as “croste” – a term used to describe worthless or mediocre works.
Criticism from art critic Vittorio Sgarbi
Vittorio Sgarbi, one of Italy’s leading art critics, has been vocal in his criticism of Silvio Berlusconi’s art collection. Sgarbi asserts that the majority of the 25,000 paintings hold little artistic value and are unlikely to be appreciated by those with a discerning eye for art. In an interview, Sgarbi suggested that “people who know little about art” might enjoy a museum containing Berlusconi’s collection. He further contended that out of the vast collection, only around six or seven paintings possess any artistic merit. Sgarbi’s critical assessment has undoubtedly cast a shadow over the value and significance of Berlusconi’s artistic holdings.
Estimated value of the collection
Despite the criticism leveled at the collection, Silvio Berlusconi’s art holdings still hold significant financial value. The entire collection is estimated to be worth approximately €20 million, with an average valuation of €800 per painting. While this figure may seem substantial, it should be noted that Berlusconi, who amassed vast wealth during his life, had a net worth of around €6 billion at the time of his death. Thus, the value of the art collection is relatively insignificant when compared to his overall wealth.
Berlusconi’s higher quality paintings
Although Vittorio Sgarbi dismisses the majority of Silvio Berlusconi’s art collection as being of poor quality, it is worth noting that Berlusconi also owned higher quality paintings. Notably, his main residence boasted works by renowned artists such as the Renaissance painter Titian and the Dutch grand master Rembrandt. These higher quality pieces demonstrated Berlusconi’s appreciation for fine art, even though the majority of his vast collection may not have lived up to the same standards.
Challenges for Berlusconi’s heirs
Managing the extensive collection
One of the primary challenges facing Silvio Berlusconi’s heirs is the management of the extensive art collection. With 25,000 artworks to handle, the logistics of preserving, cataloging, and displaying the pieces can be overwhelming. The sheer magnitude of the collection necessitates careful planning and organization to ensure the artworks are appropriately cared for and accessible to future generations.
Cost of maintaining the warehouse
The storage and maintenance of the art collection pose significant financial burdens for Berlusconi’s heirs. The current warehouse housing the artworks costs approximately €800,000 per year to operate, placing a considerable strain on the family’s resources. This substantial ongoing expense must be factored into the financial management of the collection, potentially impacting the overall value and viability of retaining the artworks.
Damage from woodworms
Another challenge faced by Berlusconi’s heirs relates to the damaging impact of woodworms on the art collection. Part of the vast collection has already fallen victim to these destructive pests, leading to the deterioration and potential loss of valuable artworks. Addressing this issue requires costly extermination procedures and preventive measures, further adding to the financial burden associated with maintaining the collection.
Value of paintings vs cost of extermination
An important consideration for Berlusconi’s heirs is the balance between the value of the paintings and the cost of exterminating pests such as woodworms. In certain cases, the cost of extermination can outweigh the worth of the artworks themselves. This presents a difficult decision for the heirs, as they must determine the cost-effectiveness of investing in treatments or potentially accepting the loss of certain pieces in the interest of preserving the collection as a whole.
Silvio Berlusconi’s art collection, despite its vast size, has faced criticism from prominent art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, who deems the majority of the artworks to be of poor quality and lacking artistic merit. Nevertheless, the collection retains significant financial worth, estimated at €20 million. Managing this extensive collection poses significant challenges for Berlusconi’s heirs, including handling the logistics of preserving and maintaining the artworks, the high cost of maintaining the warehouse, addressing damages caused by woodworms, and striking a balance between the value of the paintings and the cost of extermination. As the heirs navigate these complex challenges, the fate and legacy of Silvio Berlusconi’s art collection remain uncertain.