Archive for November 11th, 2009

As the scandal turns: Vasari archive in foreclosure

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

The scandal from the questionable sale of the Vasari archives to a Russian concern has a whole new bag of issues now. According to unnamed sources, Equitalia, a tax collection agency, has seized the Vasari archive for non-payment of an inheritance tax.

Giorgio Vasari's house, ArezzoNot many details are forthcoming so far. I can’t quite tell from the article if it’s a lien or a foreclosure. Whatever the exact economic mechanism, Equitalia has named the Tuscan archival superintendency temporary custodian of the property, so the precious Vasari papers are officially out of Festari/Russian/private hands.

As it happens, the Tuscan authorities have delegated hands-on custody of the papers to the curator of the Vasari house, who is already a government employee of course, so exactly not a single thing will change. The papers will remain where they are, being cared for by the same staff.

The only difference is the people who tried to sell it to the Russians no longer possess it. Now the government does, and it didn’t have to scrape up an impossible 150 million euros to get it. When will we learn the lessons of Al Capone and The Untouchables? Don’t fuck with the government when you haven’t paid your taxes.

Meanwhile, regional and national agencies are still investigating the specifics of the sale. Since I last posted about this story, Ross Group spokesman Vasily Stepanov has indicated that the corporation isn’t even the actual buyer, but rather an intermediary brokering the sale between the Festari family and an anonymous Armenian oligarch who made a fortune on timber in Siberia.

Awesome, right? I swear you couldn’t make this stuff up.

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