Next month, the doors of an Italian mob boss’s former home will open to the public, thanks in part to the Uffizi Gallery.
Egidio “Brutus” Coppola had funneled part of his fortune as head of the Camorra crime syndicate into a gaudy villa in the town of Casal di Principe, northwest of Naples. Authorities confiscated the land in 2012 when they arrested the notorious criminal as part of Mayor Renato Natale’s crusade against the Neapolitan mob. Its members had previously tried and failed to assassinate him.
The Guardian reports the local politician is seemingly exacting vengeance by turning their employer’s home into an art gallery commemorating mafia victims and their “resistance” against Camorra; Natale hopes to eventually turn it into a permanent monument. “Only through the promotion of civil society can we build a community that will always be ready to protect itself from this kind of infiltration,” he told the newspaper.
The gallery’s inaugural exhibition will open June 22 in memory of Peppe Diana, a priest shot by Camorra members in 1994 while he was preparing for mass. The exhibit’s apt title, The Light Wins Over the Shadow, finds moral resonance in the chiaroscuro technique that dominates the baroque masterpieces on display — paintings by the likes of Luca Giordano, Artemisia Gentileschi, Mattia Preti, and Battistello Caracciolo.
Most of them are on loan from the Uffizi, which has its own score to settle with the mafia. In 1993, the Sicilian mob Cosa Nostra attacked the famous Florentine museum, killing five people and incurring $1 million in damages. Museum director Antonio Natali said the opening of the gallery in Coppola’s home has been “one of the main aspirations of the Uffizi.”