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Alitalia to sell prized art collection to cut debts

Alitalia is selling its prized, multimillion-pound art collection to help to reduce crippling debts, as it prepares for a relaunch next month under new ownership.

The collection of modern art includes works from the likes of Salvador Dali, Giorgio De Chirico and Giacomo Balla, as well as sculptures by Giacomo Manzu and Mario Ceroli.The beleaguered carrier began collecting the 200-strong collection during its 1950s heyday, when it bought modern art works to decorate its boardrooms, VIP lounges and even its fleet of DC8 aircraft.

The artworks are now at Alitalia offices in Rome, Milan, Turin and New York, or in storage.

The sale has been authorised by Augusto Fantozzi, the airline’s bankruptcy commissioner. Professor Fantozzi has asked four auction houses to consider evaluating the collection.

Last week the Italian government gave Fantozzi the go-ahead to proceed with selling the assets of Alitalia for just over Eur1bn to investment consortium Italian Air Company (CAI).
The airline, 49.9 % owned by the Italian state, is still seeking a foreign partner to take a minority stake in the relaunched firm.
This week Lufthansa launched “Lufthansa Italia”, a new airline based at Milan Malpensa, to serve main European cities, including London. A Lufthansa spokesman said it would blend “German reliability with Italian flair”.
CAI is to retain 12,500 alitalia workers while cutting some 3,250 jobs.