Berlusconi’s paintings bought in late-night telesales binges are ‘worthless’

Berlusconi had around 25,000 paintings.

Berlusconi’s paintings bought in late-night telesales binges are ‘worthless’
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives for a joint press conference with education minister Mariastella Gelmini (not pictured) on October 22, 2008 at the Prime Ministry in Rome. The government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is proposing to trim eight billion euros (10.8 billion dollars) from the education budget from 2009-11 over a three year period as part of a major general reduction in government spending. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi loved buying art from telesales programmes (Picture: AFP)

The late Silvio Berlusconi’s 25,000-strong collection of paintings has been mocked by one of Italy’s top art critics.

The former Italian prime minister’s art collection features ‘poor quality works of little to no value’, according to art historian Vittorio Sgarbi.

The critic claimed there are only six to seven paintings out of the thousands that are possibly worth anything.

Mr Berlusconi, who died in June, bought thousands of paintings and sculptures from telesales programmes throughout his life.

His family are already apparently finding the huge collection cumbersome.

The paintings are currently being held in a 3,200 square metre warehouse close to his mansion near Milan, in Italy.

Milan, Italy, 1985, Silvio Berlusconi joking with a nude female painting (Photo Archivio Cicconi/Getty Images)
Art critic Vittorio Sgarbi has mocked the late prime minister’s art collection (Picture: Hulton Archive)

From paintings of Madonnas and naked women to city scenes of Paris, Venice and Naples, the collection is varied and vast, according to La Repubblica.

But, despite its size, it isn’t very impressive to Mr Sgarbi.

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The critic told a magazine that those who enjoy looking at the collection would likely be people who ‘know little about art’.

The whole collection is thought to be worth around €20 million (£17.4 million) – which would make each painting an average of €800 (£700).

Mr Berlusconi, who had dominated politics in Italy since the 1990s, had a net worth of around €6 billion (£5.2 billion) when he died.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visits the picture gallery in the Great Catherine Palace 31 May 2003, during the celebrations marking the 300-year anniversary of Saint Petersburg. AFP PHOTO/MAXIM MARMUR (Photo by MAXIM MARMUR / AFP) (Photo by MAXIM MARMUR/AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Berlusconi’s heirs are finding the huge art collection cumbersome (Picture: AFP)

The former prime minister had owned some art of higher worth as his main residence contained works by Renaissance painter Titian and Dutch artist Rembrandt.

The billionaire was an impulsive buyer, according to London-based art dealer Cesare Lampronti, who kept a close relationship with Mr Berlosconi for three decades.

Mr Lampronti said: ‘He liked to buy portraits of women he gave as gifts to friends. When he was younger, he bought at galleries and from dealers, but later in life he bought from TV auctions.

‘He knew what he was buying was worthless.’

According to La Repubblica, the warehouse being used to store the art collections costs around €800,000 (£700,000) a year to run.

Woodworms have already destroyed part of the collection – and in some cases it costs more to exterminate them than the art is worth.

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