“I am resigning,” Sgarbi said unexpectedly at an event in Milan, to the consternation of those present. He indicated that his decision is with immediate effect and stated that he would inform Prime Minister Meloni in writing “within hours”.
The 71-year-old Sgarbi, an art historian, has regularly caused controversy in recent years. There are many investigations against him. He is suspected, among other things, of having sold his services as a teacher, which is prohibited for government members. Sgarbi is said to have received around 300,000 euros in compensation as a speaker or presenter since he joined the government.
He is also under investigation for possibly being in possession of a stolen 17th century work of art. He allegedly had that painting edited to conceal its illegal origin. The politician denies those allegations.
His relationship with the press is also not very good: Sgarbi quickly loses his patience and uses a rather vulgar vocabulary at those moments. A video shows him insulting journalists and wishing death on them. “If you die in a traffic accident, I will be happy,” he said.
It is the first resignation in Meloni’s conservative government since she became prime minister in September 2022.