Accounts Court investigates Christo’s Floating Piers

Following challenge by consumer association.

The spectacular installation “Floating Piers” by Bulgarian artist Christo, which enjoyed huge success in Lombardy’s Lago d’Iseo in June and July, is to be probed by Italy’s Court of Accounts after complaints about the cost to the public.

Consumer association Codacons presented a complaint over the cost of providing a helicopter rescue service, ambulances, first-aid posts, fire-fighters and other services at taxpayers’ expense. AREU, the regional emergency response organisation, for example, carried out 1,600 ambulance runs during the two weeks of the installation.

The statistics of the success are not challenged: a record of 1.2 million visitors, including 460,000 travelling on 1,200 extra trains from Milan’s Trenord and another 400,000 arriving on ferries. Even Codacons conceded that the event brought “international culture to Lombardy residents with an important moment of growth and development.”

The major cost of the installation was borne by Christo himself for €14 million, plus a further €3 million funded by the regional government. But Codacons protested that the exceptional nature of the event should have prompted planners to prepare for the extra costs for visitor safety.

The Court of Accounts has passed the association’s protest to magistrates to probe all the accounts, and the magistrates in turn have ordered the Finance Guard to secure all the relevant documentation.

Lombardy regional government has published a fascinating time-lapse video recording the installation of the Floating Piers.