Italian billionaire media tycoon and three-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is no stranger to gaffes and sex scandals. He has described himself variously as the Jesus Christ, Churchill and Napoleon of Italian politics. While publicly, the latest sex scandal threatens to bring a (as he describes it) Caesar-like end to all his fun, privately it is said Italian men view Berlusconi’s womanising ways with envy.
He owns around half of all the media in Italy but when questioned about whether it is a conflict of interest, Berlusconi responds, “If I, taking care of everyone’s interests, also take care of my own, you can’t talk about a conflict of interest.”
Here’s a look back at some of the more memorable Berlusconi moments (2009 has been a busy year of scandal):
July 2003. Berlusconi compares a German MEP to a Nazi concentration camp guard.
I know that in Italy there is a man producing a film on Nazi concentration camps — I shall put you forward for the role of Kapo (guard chosen from among the prisoners) — you would be perfect.
January 2007. Berlusconi’s wife forces him to issue a front page apology in one of his rival’s newspapers after he was caught flirting with women at a TV awards night. One of the women, former showgirl Mara Carafagna, is now the Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities.
April 2008. After his defeat in 2006 amidst fraud allegations, Berlusconi returns with a new face (but has only had the eyes done, he claims) and goes on to win the Italian election to become Italian Prime Minister for the third time.
Just the eyes? Before and after:
April 3rd 2009. We are not amused. Queen Elizabeth II reportedly chastises the Italian PM at the G20 summit for shouting during a photo op in an attempt to get US President Barack Obama’s attention.
April 8th 2009. Victims of the Italian earthquakes are told by Berlusconi that they should pretend they’re on a “camping weekend“.
May 3rd 2009. Berlusconi’s long-suffering wife Veronica says she will divorce him after it was revealed he attended the 18th birthday party of a “female friend” that is later alleged to be Berlusconi’s daughter. Berlusconi says he’s saddened that his wife is being fooled by left-wing media.
May 6th 2009. Photos published of nude women lounging around Berlusconi’s private villa. Also pictured in the photos is the very n-de and aroused former Czech PM Mirek Topolanek.
June 22nd 2009. Revelations that young women were frequently hired to attend Berlusconi’s private parties and have admitted to having s-x with him.
June 24th 2009. Berlusconi denies paying women for sex, telling Chi Magazine he “never understood what the satisfaction is when you are missing the pleasure of conquest.”
July 22nd 2009. Berlusconi admits “I’m no saint” after recorded conversations between the Italian PM and a prostitute were released. On the tapes, Berlusconi tells the woman to wait in “Putin’s bed” while he showers, referring to a bed the Russian Prime Minister slept in during his most recent trip to Italy. Italian publishers, L’Espresso media group, are now suing Berlusconi for defamation after he described their magazine, La Repubblica, as “subversive”.