Home for retired musicians raises funds to buy Verdi letters

MILAN (AP) — A home for retired musicians created by composer Giuseppe Verdi has secured of a cache of his joking and sometimes off-color correspondence with an Italian count for the bargain price of 120,000 euros ($132,000).

Officials said Wednesday that the 82 letters failed to sell at auction last year, despite international interest, due to restrictions by the Culture Ministry that the buyer must be an Italian resident. That excluded the many foreign universities that expressed interested.

The home for retired musicians jumped at the opportunity, negotiating the price down from the 150,000-euro original starting bid, and securing donors through an Italian crowdsourcing site.

The head of the home said the money transfer has been made, but the letters won't be delivered until the sale is formally approved by culture officials.