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Giorgio Corbelli, who made his fortune selling art through his two television channels, and then proceeded to acquire a majority holding in Semenzato (65%), made a takeover bid for Finarte (of which he is now president), and bought Naples football club on the way.

The case in question concerns the fraudulent sale of lithographs and paintings by contemporary artists and especially by a painter called Michele Cascella. The exclusive right to sell Cascella’s work belongs to a company called Torcular Spa, and it is claimed that its owner, Paolo Cimatti, and Corbelli were instrumental in producing the fakes, and promoting them on one of Corbelli’s TV channels to add credibility, given the lack of provenance, in order to sell the works.

Torcular is the majority shareholder in Telemarket and probably the instrument used to prise control of Finarte, on whose board Cimatti sits as member, and Corbelli as president. So far, nine people have been arrested, including the artist’s daughter, and Cimatti.

As soon as the news became public, the share price of Finarte collapsed and trading was suspended. Although neither Finarte nor Semenzato are being connected to the allegations in any way, both houses are distancing themselves as much as possible from these individuals. Corbelli has been a majority shareholder of Semenzato since 1996, and since last year the auction house has started the process for stock market flotation under the chairmanship of Franco Semenzato.