Italian collecting society SIAE has been placed under special government "commissionership," the country's cultural heritage minister Rocco Buttiglione said yesterday (July 27). At the same time, SIAE

Italian collecting society SIAE has been placed under special government "commissionership," the country's cultural heritage minister Rocco Buttiglione said yesterday (July 27). At the same time, SIAE's president-elect Ivan Cecchini has resigned.

The situation effectively marks a return to a state of affairs that existed in SIAE from May 1999 to June 2003, when the society was run by a special government commissioner, Mauro Masi. The new special commissioner has yet to be identified.

Officials explain that the commissionership has been introduced due to the poor state of SIAE's finances. The society's members, however, dispute this. In a letter sent today by the society's governing body to the Italian parliament's culture commission, SIAE's members point out that its balance sheet in 2004 "saw some of the best results in years." The members conclude that "SIAE is an organization that should be run by its members."

The threat of commissionership had been hanging over SIAE since the resignation of society president Franco Migliacci on May 11. The majority of SIAE members feel that government commissionership effectively paves the way for Italy's political parties to gain control of a powerful and lucrative organization.