Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Arrigo Cipriani nailed on tax evasion

Arrigo Cipriani, 75, has pleaded guilty in New York to felony tax charges and has agreed to $10 million in restitution. His son Giuseppe also pleaded guilty on misdemeanor charges.

The Ciprianis are at the head of an old and very successful hospitality dynasty going back many decades, made famous by Ernest Hemingway's patronage of Harry's Bar in Venice.The family also has other locales in Venice, including the unique and delightful Locanda Cipriani  on the island of Torcello in the Venice Lagoon. His son had taken charge of Cipriani USA, with restaurants in New York and a line of food products.

This sordid and shameful episode can only be ascribed, as usual, to limitless greed. The elder Cipriani at 75 was already very, very rich and well-known. An interesting side issue (if it is a side issue, and not a major issue) is that the two major Italian dailies, the Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica, did not feature this item on the home page of their site (as of this writing), and neither did the Venice daily, La Nuova. To my knowledge, Cipriani has never been brought up on tax charges in Italy. But it just so happened to befall him in the US, at the tender age of 75.

I am neither surprised, or to be frank, displeased. I saw Arrigo Cipriani around 1990 at Harry's Bar, where he was obsequiously making the rounds upstairs of the diners at tables that were spaced about two inches apart. Cipriani is a ruffiano, meaning not a ruffian, but an ass-kisser. He very nearly by-passed the little table where I and my companion were eating our over-priced lunch to fall all over a grossly obese but evidently wealthy American habitue'.

Addendum: you will note that on the link, above, the entry page has a quote from the Great Man himself: "There is soul, and there are things." Sentencing is for October.