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The Bunga-Bunga Party Is Over: Silvio Berlusconi Sentenced To Four Years In Prison
October 26, 2012
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Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister of Italy and current media mogul, was convicted of tax fraud by a court in Italy today, and sentenced to four years in prison.

This is not Berlusconi's first trial - in the past, he's been accused of colluding with the mafia, false accounting, corruption, bribery of police officers and judges, and yes, tax fraud.

He's also currently on trial in Milan on charges that he paid for sex with an under-age teenager and tried to cover it up.

But this is the first time he's been convicted and sentenced for his alleged crimes.

Still, he may escape jail time. Under Italian law, cases must pass two levels of appeal before verdicts are final, and Berlusconi is expected to appeal.

But we figured this is as good a time as any to review the long and storied career of a man who, until today, seemed like he was coated in a thick layer of Teflon.

The Music


From an early age, Berlusconi was a crooner, and he's continued to write and release music throughout his political and business career.

The picture above is from his time as a singer on cruise ships when he was a student. He released his last album, 'True Love,' last year.

The Business


Berlusconi started his business career in construction in the early 60s, building Milano Due, a huge housing project. He moved into the media world in 1973 by setting up a small cable TV company to service the homes he'd built. By 1977, he was broadcasting over the airwaves from Milan.

It's safe to say he was successful: in the five years from 1978 to 1983, for example, he earned $75 million through his first media group, Fininvest, but there are questions about whether everything was on the up and up.

He founded a number of private national television networks, even though they were technically forbidden by law. In 1990, the channels were officially elevated to the status of national TV channels.

But it was his TV business that led to today's conviction: prosecutors in the case alleged that Berlusconi's company had bought the rights to broadcast U.S. movies, but hid the payments to avoid paying taxes.

The company was also accused of inflating the prices for the TV rights of 3,000 films as they relicensed them to Berlusconi's networks, then pocketed the difference (about $300 million).

The Women


Oh, the women. Berlusconi has been married twice, and as of today, he's still is. But you really wouldn't know it from his behaviour.

He's well-known for so-called "bunga bunga" parties, which allegedly include unlimited girls and lots of cocaine.

And he's been linked to many women, including allegations of sleeping with underage prostitutes.

He's been involved in so many scandals involving women that we can't even begin to get into them all. But if you'd like some highlights, the Telegraph put together a handy Top 10 list right here.

The Sports


Back in 1986, Berlusconi purchased A.C. Milan, a professional Italian soccer team. The club has won a bunch of international trophies - 18 officially recognized UEFA and FIFA titles in all.

When he bought the team, though, it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Since Berlusconi took ownership, the team has had some of its most successful years.

But as with anything involving Berlusconi, there have been scandals. In 2006, A.C. Milan was involved in the Serie A scandal, where five teams were accused of fixing matches by picking favourable referees. Berlusconi wasn't directly involved in that one, though.

The Politics


Despite many controversies during his time in office, Berlusconi has had a successful (if turbulent and unscrupulous) political life.

His political career started in 1994 when he was elected prime minister for the first time. He won the election by forming two coalitions - one with a regional party in the North of Italy, and the other with the post-fascist National Alliance.

He also had help from a massive campaign of electoral adverts on the three TV stations he owned.

That was in March. In December, his cabinet fell after one of the coalitions fell apart. In 2001, he tried again, gathering a coalition and winning the election. From that win until November 12, 2011, Berlusconi managed to hold on to power.

He finally stepped down as prime minister amid doubts about his leadership, questions about protecting his own business ventures while in power, and his failure to meet some of his pre-election promises.

The Quotes


Over the years, Berlusconi has said some pretty unbelievable things, especially considering he was a world leader. Some highlights (and lowlights) are below.

On his sex life: "When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30 per cent of women said, 'Yes,' while the other 70 per cent replied, 'What, again?'"

"It's better to like beautiful girls than to be gay."

"Women are lining up to marry me. Legend has it, I know how to do it."

On Mussolini: "Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini used to send people on vacation in internal exile."

On the path of the West after September 11, 2001: "The West will continue to conquer peoples, even if it means a confrontation with another civilization, Islam, firmly entrenched where it was 1,400 years ago."

On potential conflicts of interest when he was both prime minister and one of Italy's biggest tycoons: "If I, taking care of everyone else's interests, also take care of my own, you can't talk about a conflict of interest."

On Barack Obama: "[Mr. Obama is] young, handsome and suntanned."

And Michelle Obama: "Ah Barack Obama. You won't believe it, but the two of them sunbathe together, because the wife is also tanned."

On himself: "I am without a doubt the person who's been the most persecuted in the entire history of the world and the history of man."

"The best political leader in Europe and in the world."


Umberto Eco on Silvio Berlusconi

CHEAT SHEET: Italy's Debt Crisis

YEAR IN REVIEW: Politicians Gone Wild


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