A political firestorm has erupted in Italy following the publications of sexually charged comments from culture minister Vittorio Sgarbi in which he boasted of sleeping with over 1,500 women and praised the penis as the “organ of knowledge”.
At an event at Rome’s MAXXI national museum of contemporary art last month, Vittorio Sgarbi, a junior culture minister in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government, sparked outrage as he bragged about his sexual conquests and discussed his “dick” at length.
In a video of his appearance at the museum, posted over the weekend, Sgarbi is heard saying according to a translation from the Daily Mail: “The dick is an organ of knowledge, that is of penetration, it serves to [make us] understand.”
The culture undersecretary went on to claim that late Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, despite his reputation of holding ‘Bunga Bunga’ sex parties had slept with “fewer than 100 women” during his life, which Sgarbi — a personal friend of the former PM — characterised as a “tragedy”.
When pressed by fellow panellist, Italian rock singer Morgan, on how many women he had slept with, the 71-year-old minister said: “I don’t have a penis counter, so I don’t know, but I can answer you like the great Califano (Italian lyricist), and I can estimate an average of three a month and when I was active it was even nine or twelve a month… So it adds up to 1,500, minimum.”
A strong controversy is brewing in the Italian government over the performance of Culture Undersecretary Vittorio Sgarbi at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, where he indulged in insults, vulgarity and sexist phrases.
A small excerpt 👇 pic.twitter.com/HYaERkzOhb
— Crazy Ass Moments in Italian Politics 🇮🇹 (@CrazyItalianPol) July 3, 2023
Lamenting the effects of age upon the male anatomy, Sgarbi relayed a conversation he had shared with French novelist Michel Houellebecq, telling the crowd: “At a certain point, turning 67, the prostate appears and you have to deal with this fucking bitch whore you’ve never met in your life… The cock goes away and the prostate comes.”
The lewd comments from the government official, who is also a prominent art critic in the country, have led to calls for Prime Minister Meloni — the first female leader of Italy — to sack the junior culture minister, including from the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
It has also been reported that 44 of the MAXXI gallery’s 49 employees, the majority of which are female, wrote a letter to the museum’s president to demand that he defends the institution’s values against sexism.
For his part, Sgarbi has so far refused to step down from his post and condemned the cancel culture attempt to oust him, noting that Mozart had similarly vulgar taste in humour, saying: “Let’s censor Mozart.”