Disgraced Craxi shows his artistic side

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The Independent Online
A COLLECTION of ceramics, lithographs and photographs goes on display in Rome today under the title "My Africa".

The exhibits, which include antique posters featuring sultry Algerian maidens, lithographs by Auguste Lumiere, and photos of ancient Roman coins, would normally have passed unnoticed except that the collector is one of Italy's best-known fugitives, the former Socialist Prime Minister Bettino Craxi.

Interviewed at his luxury villa in Tunisia, Mr Craxi described himself as a conceptual artist and likened his work to that of Man Ray and Andy Warhol.

Mr Craxi's first exhibition was organised by Andrea Picini, the sculptor. "After all he has been through, I told him he had the right to show his artistic side to the public," his friend said.

The only works that are 100 per cent Craxi are the white ceramic vases with green and red dribbling down the sides, entitled "The Italy that cries".

The exhibition by Mr Craxi, a living symbol to many of the excesses of Italy's corrupt political class, opened a day after a hearing in Milan in which he is accused of receiving around 800 million lire (pounds 300,000) illegally from a Milan businessman. Mr Craxi has already been sentenced in absentia to 24 years in prison for corruption involving billions of lire.

Mr Craxi claims he is the victim of a left-wing plot and would never get a fair trial in Italy.