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Italy: Tod's owner wants to withdraw from Colosseum restoration deal

last update: January 12, 16:49

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Rome, 12 Jan. (AKI) - Italian luxury shoe billionaire Diego Della Valle wants to scrap a deal to pay for the 25 million euro restoration of the Roman Colosseum as investigators probe bidding contracts for possible transparency violations.

During a meeting Thursday with Italian culture minister Lorenzo Ornaghi, the owner of Tod's "expressed his intention to withdraw from sponsorship contract," said a statement from the Culture Ministry. Ornaghi asked Della Valle to take some time to reflect before making a definatie decision, the statement added.

Investigators in Rome and Italy's highest administrative court are looking into a union's claim that rules were broken during the bidding process for work on the 2,000 year-old amphitheatre.

The investigation is in early stages and according to news reports no evidence of a crime has surfaced.

Della Valle, whose shoes cost hundreds of euros, is flipping the 25 million-euro bill to pay for the facelift that will include 5 million euros worth of scrubbing away the facade blackened by smog. In return for the funds. Tod's secured advertising rights at the Colosseum which attracts millions of visitors every year.

The Uil union together with consumer groups have also complained about the deal securing 15 years of exclusivity for Tod's to use the Italy's most familiar landmark for advertising. to complicate matters, an artisans trade group called for all work to be halted because it was set to be carried out by construction workers, rather than skilled restorers.

The work, expected to last two years, was slated to begin last month but was pushed forward to March.

The need to restore Italy's the Colosseum made headlines first in May when pieces of mortar and lime fell from the walls. More recently, pieces of tufa rock broke off the monument on Christmas and on 27 December raising concern about the urgency for repairs.

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