Escaped mafia gangster Matteo Messina Denaro had a poster of the classic film The Godfather on the wall of his secret bunker, police have revealed.
Denaro, 60, who was arrested earlier this week after eluding police for more than 30 years, is said to idolize the Oscar-winning blockbuster in which Marlon Brando was the boss of an Italian-American crime family bent on Denaro’s Mafia Cosa Nostra based.
The 1972 hit movie detailed how a Sicilian migrant, played by Brando, went to New York in the early 20th century and became one of the biggest Mafia bosses – just like Denaro, rising to the top of the Sicilian Mafia.
Officials found the poster in the first of three bunkers Denaro used as hiding spots in the village of Campobello di Mazara, 70 miles from the city of Palermo, where he was arrested while attending a chemotherapy clinic.
Escaped mafia gangster Matteo Messina Denaro (who was arrested by police on Monday) had a poster of the classic film The Godfather on the wall of his secret bunker
Denaro, 60, who was arrested earlier this week after evading police for more than 30 years, is said to idolize the Oscar-winning blockbuster in which Marlon Brando was the boss of an Italian-American crime family (pictured) who died on Denaros Mafia Cosa Nostra based
Alongside the giant poster of the Francis Ford Coppola-directed film – which showed Brando in the classic brooding pose in a tuxedo and red buttonhole – police also found a poster of The Joker – Batman’s villainous nemesis.
It’s not the first time real life has mimicked Hollywood, as a few months ago police in Naples raided a local organized crime boss’s mansion, which was designed to resemble that of Tony Montana in the blockbuster Scarface.
Inside were framed movie posters of Pacino, who is remembered for a memorable scene in which he machine guns his enemies while his mansion is under attack.
In the three bunkers used by Denaro, Sicilian police also found Viagra, condoms, expensive designer suits and aftershave, as well as boxes of cash and receipts for expensive meals — as well as a diary and notes they hope explain how he managed it to evade capture for so long.
A source said: “The Godfather poster hung on a wall behind a desk in the first bunker, it embodies mafia vanity the way Hollywood portrayed organized crime. We know Denaro admired Brando’s portrayal of a mafia boss and how he rose from humble roots to a ruthless leader – much like he did.”
The Godfather was adapted from the bestseller of the same name by Mario Puzo, a novelist who grew up in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen.
The film was controversial from the start, and shortly after Paramount Pictures announced its production, the Italian-American Civil Rights League held a rally in Madison Square Garden, claiming the film would be an insult to Italian Americans.
The uproar only increased publicity for the film, which Paramount billed as a big money hit after the success of Puzo’s novel.
While the words “Mafia” and “Cosa Nostra” appear throughout the novel released in 1969, the film’s producer – at the request of the Italian American Civil Rights League – agreed to remove all such references from the script.
Pictured: A Carabinieri officer photographs the home of Italy’s most wanted mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro in Palermo on his home island of Sicily after 30 years on the run. The Italian anti-mafia police caught the Sicilian godfather on January 16, 2023
Italian newspapers with the news of the arrest of the fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro on January 17, 2023 in Bari, Italy
Judge Maria Carmela Giannazzo speaks on the day of the start of a trial of Italy’s most-wanted mob boss Matteo Messina Denaro in the courthouse of Caltanissetta, Italy, January 19, 2023
People wave blank sheets of paper wishing a new story to fill those sheets during an anti-mafia protest in the Sicilian town of Castelvetrano, where Italy’s most wanted mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro was born, in Castelvetrano, Italy, January 19, 2023
Denaro wielded tremendous power and coordinated decades of terror that resulted in the deaths of over 50 people, though he was never seen publicly after his escape in the early 1990s.
The mafioso, who once boasted he could “fill a graveyard with his victims,” went into hiding after ordering a series of deadly attacks, including the murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, as well as a series of car bombs in Florence, Milan and Rome in 1993 that killed 10 people and injured 93.
That same year, Messina Denaro helped organize the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, to dissuade his father from testifying against the mafia, prosecutors say. The boy was held captive for two years before he was brutally strangled and his body dissolved in a vat of acid.
Italy’s No. 1 fugitive was finally arrested by police earlier this week.
The 60-year-old was escorted away from Palermo’s La Maddalena hospital by two uniformed police officers and crammed into a black minivan – potentially closing the door on a long chapter of blood and violence unleashed by the crime lord.
Messina Denaro, nicknamed “Diabolik” and “U Siccu” (The Thin One), was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his role in the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Falcone and Borsellino.
Messina Denaro was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his involvement in the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Pictured: The scene of Falcone’s murder in Palermo, Sicily, in 1992
The mafia boss, who comes from the Sicilian town of Castelvetrano, is also threatened with life imprisonment for his involvement in the bomb attacks in Florence, Rome and Milan, which killed ten people the following year
In 1993, Messina Denaro helped organize the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo (pictured), in order to blackmail his father into not testifying against the mafia. The boy was killed after two years of captivity and his body was dissolved in acid
The horrifying murders were a hallmark of the feared criminal. They shocked the nation and triggered a crackdown on Cosa Nostra.
On Wednesday, a doctor at the clinic where the fugitive was arrested said the convicted killer was seriously ill with cancer.
“He is seriously ill. The disease has accelerated in recent months,” Vittorio Gebbia, head of the oncology department at the Maddalena Clinic in Palermo, told the daily Repubblica.
Police continue to search for clues as to how Messina Denaro managed to evade capture for three decades.
Denaro underwent surgery for colon cancer in 2020 and 2022 under a false name, according to leaked medical records released in Italian media.
He was arrested on Monday after detectives discovered he was ill through wiretapped conversations with family members and searched Italy for possible suspects of the right sex and age with the same type of cancer.
Police officers asked Gebbia if Messina Denaro needed urgent treatment.
“Police asked me if it would matter if the chemotherapy cycle he was supposed to receive was delayed by a few days, and I signed it because such a small delay will have no effect,” Gebbia said.
Messina Denaro was transferred to a maximum security prison in L’Aquila, in the Abruzzo region, shortly after his arrest in Palermo, where he was held in solitary confinement.
According to the daily Corriere della Sera, he was to be taken to the San Salvatore Hospital in L’Aquila, which has a special unit for this type of prisoner, for chemotherapy.