Florence Museum Official Investigated for Abuse of Office

Did Cristina Acidini and her predecessor breach European regulations?

Cristina Acidini Photo via: Artribune
Cristina Acidini Photo via: Artribune

The superintendent of Florence’s museums, Cristina Acidini, and her predecessor, Antonio Paolucci, now director of the Vatican Museums, are being investigated by the Guardia di Finanza. Both are accused of not carrying out the required tendering process when initiating an insurance contract for the transport of artworks abroad, which would have allowed other firms to bid for the business.

The contract under scrutiny was agreed upon by AXA Art and Paolucci in the fall of 2006 before Paolucci’s transfer to Rome, reports La Reppublica. It was later confirmed by Acidini. If the allegations prove true, the agreement would breach European rules, which require a tendering process for any insurance contract exceeding €50,000. The secretary of both superintendents, Marco Fossi, is also under investigation.

AXA Art released a statement, which says they are “fully aware of the ongoing investigation in Italy and await the results of the probe by the authorities.” It said that insurance policy documents were confidential, and thus that information on individual policyholders could not be made public.

The Guardia di Finanza is also looking into what have been characterized as exceptionally low fees charged for the organization of classical music concerts at the Boboli Gardens, located behind the Pitti Palace, during Acidini’s tenure.

Acidini’s Resignation

Acidini resigned on September 5 but has vehemently denied that her decision to do so was related to the ongoing investigation. She claimed that the likely effects of an upcoming reform prompted her resignation. The reform will give more autonomy to 20 major museums in Italy and see the power of the superintendent significantly reduced (seeItaly Announces Sweeping Cultural Reforms“).

Speaking on Acidini’s behalf, her lawyer also said that his client didn’t benefit from the agreement, and that she acted in full transparency and in the best interest of the public institutions she served.

The Florence museums system features some of the Italy’s most renowned institutions, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens, and the Accademia Gallery, which is home to Michelangelo’s David.

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