Cecchi Gori's property seized


Trouble continued for Italian film producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori as a Rome tribunal seized more than €100 million ($154 million) worth of his property, including the country's top movie theater.

The move comes as the producer uses up his last appeal on charges that he transferred assets from his production company before declaring bankruptcy in 2006 in order to escape the grasp of creditors.

Two courts have found that the assets ended up under the control of a Virgin Islands holding company called Jonquille Associated, which is controlled by a Cecchi Gori holding in Luxembourg. Cecchi Gori, meanwhile, has maintained his innocence and is preparing his third and final appeal.

According to legal documents, the tribunal Friday seized ownership of property scattered across Italy, including Rome's storied nine-screen Cinema Adriano, the country's most popular movie house in terms of per-screen revenue. Dozens of other theaters, buildings and equipment also were taken. The seizure means that the assets cannot be sold or moved until freed from court control.

Cecchi Gori's office declined comment on the case. But the person answering the phone at the Adriano on Friday said it will continue operating as normal.

The news comes just two weeks after the beleaguered Cecchi Gori announced that he was seeking €941 million ($1.45 billion) in damages from Italy's Communications Authority for rulings it made in connection with Cecchi Gori's sale of two television networks in 2001.

The producer also announced plans to sell rights to more than 700 films he produced or owns rights to in an effort to raise $60 million, about a fourth of which will go to a new production company he created called New Capital.

Cecchi Gori is best known for producing "The Postman," "Mediterraneo" and "Life Is Beautiful."