Photos of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the presence of young topless women may soon reach Israel as part of a campaign promoting hotels and restaurants in the Tel Aviv area, Haaretz has learned.
According to Antonello Zappadu, an Italian photographer from Sardinia who took pictures of Berlusconi in the company of half-naked female guests at the billionaire politician's Villa Certosa on the island's Costa Smeralda, a "very large advertising firm" in Israel has asked to purchase the rights to the photographs.
The pictures have been blocked from publication in Italy by the rightist media mogul, who underwent a highly publicized divorce involving claims that he'd had sex with underage girls. However the images were recently published in the Spanish left-leaning daily El Pais.
The photos of Berlusconi and former Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek with the women are, according to Zappadu, being kept in Colombia to prevent the Italian leader from confiscating them. Topolanek is allegedly nude himself in some of the photos.
Zappadu says he took thousands of photos of Berlusconi's private parties in his summer mansion between 2007 and 2009. Zappadu, who is married to a Colombian, decided to store the images in South America following an Italian court's ruling forbidding publication of the photographs.
"Before I transferred the request [by the Israeli advertising firm] to the Colombian photo agency, I informed the Israelis of the diplomatic implications," Zappadu told Haaretz. "I have to admit that the thought of Berlusconi and Topolanek appearing nude on billboards in Tel Aviv brings a smile to my lips."
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