Cecchi Gori arrested on outstanding debts

Producer of three Oscar-winning films in police custody

ROME -- One-time cinema tycoon Vittorio Cecchi Gori's financial woes took a turn for the worst Tuesday as he was arrested on charges of insolvency.

Calls to Cecchi Gori's Rome offices late Tuesday went unanswered. But the Italian media reported he was still in police custody as of late in the day.

Cecchi Gori, whose record as a producer includes five Oscars and a 2006 bankruptcy case, had been in the process of trying to resurrect his troubled career starting late last year. He did co-produce his first hit film in three years -- the interracial romantic comedy "Bianco e Nero" (Black and White) -- and founded a new production company called New Capital. But he repeatedly ran into financial troubles.

The latest round of problems came to a head in March, when a Rome tribunal seized an estimated 100 million euros ($158 million) in Cecchi Gori property, including the prized Cinema Adriano, Italy's most lucrative multiplex in terms of per-screen revenue.

On Tuesday, Cecchi Gori was reportedly picked up by police and charged with having outstanding debts of 25 million euros ($39.5 million). There was no indication Tuesday how long he would remain in custody.

Despite his financial troubles, Cecchi Gori is still best known for having produced three Oscar winning films: "Mediterrano," which won best foreign-language film in 1992; "Il Postino," which won best score in 1996; and "La Vita e Bella" (Life Is Beautiful), which took home three Oscars, including the one for foreign-language film in 1999.
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