The founder of luxury shoe company Tod’s has offered $33 million to help restore the Colosseum. However there is a catch. He doesn’t want to get involved with organizing the work, which is a rule legislated by the Italian government.
“We cannot continue reading about pieces of ancient ruins collapsing here and there,” Tod’s founder Diego Della Valle told a press conference on Thursday.
Della Valle said his offer must be accepted by the end of the year so Tod’s can include the expenditure in its budget, he said. The Saint’Elpidio, Italy-based company in 2009 sold 713 million euros worth of shoes and other merchandise.
His comments followed a report in La Repubblica newspaper that a plan by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government to attract private sponsors to pay for and oversee the Colosseum’s restoration failed to stir up interest.
“Bidding by potential sponsors closed on 30 October without appropriate responses,” said Italian Culture Ministry general secretary Roberto Cecchi, who added that his ministry would get in touch with Della Valle to discuss his offer in the next few days.
Work was supposed to include 5 million euros worth of scrubbing away the facade blackened by smog. In return for the funds, sponsors would secure advertising rights at the Colosseum which attracts millions of visitors every year. The government expected work to be completed by 2012.