Inside Silvio Berlusconi's 'bunga bunga' parties – from 'orgies' to Ronaldinho masks and Ruby the Heart Stealer scandal | The Sun

HE was the scandalous world leader whose infamous “Bunga Bunga” parties overshadowed his political career.

Now tributes are pouring for former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has died at the age of 89 following a lengthy battle with leukemia. 

The billionaire media mogul, whose health worsened after being rushed to hospital on Friday, was elected PM four times in a career that spanned three decades and even saw him own the football club AC Milan.

Shortly before his death, Berlusconi was listed as the third-wealthiest person in Italy, worth a whopping $6.8billion (£5.4billion).

But his personal achievements were mired with controversy after revelations about his 'bunga bunga' parties emerged.

Now we look back at the scandal that ruined his political career, led to one of Italy’s most sensational trials and briefly landed him in prison. 

'Bunga bunga parties'

The infamous “bunga bunga” parties came to light back in 2010 and were a term coined by Berlusconi’s political rivals.

They referred to lavish events at the former PM’s palatial villa in Arcore, in which the politician was alleged to have had orgies with prostitutes and young women trying to break into show business. 

The parties were discovered after Berlusconi instructed police to release a 17-year-old named Karima el-Mahroug, who was accused of stealing a $3,000 bracelet in 2010.

The politician lied to officers and told them over the phone that the teen was the niece of ex-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

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In reality, Karima was a prostitute and Moroccan nightclub dancer, who operated under the pseudonym ‘Ruby the Heart Stealer’.

Berlusconi’s lawyers would claim that he intervened because he feared police would discover she had attended his ‘bunga bunga’ parties while underage. 

But the PM’s intervention in her arrest led to the X-rated secret soirees being exposed.

'Inspired by Gaddafi'

Karima offered the first insight into the parties, with the teen telling police that she was first introduced to them by Berlusconi on Valentine’s Day in 2010.

The leader sent a limo to her home to escort her to his private mansion, where she claimed to have been told the inspiration for his ‘bunga bunga’ parties came from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

She claimed the evenings “consisted of a harem” and “the girls take their clothes off and have to provide physical pleasures”.

Berlusconi never denied hosting lavish parties but insisted they were “convivial” dinners with food and laughter that ended with him giving the girls money because he was “generous”.

But prosecutors would uncover more than 33 women had attended these parties and many were starlets, who hoped to break into showbusiness via one of the leader’s TV channels in exchange for sexual favours.

Prosecutors explained that it began with a formal meal with foods served in the colours of the Italian flag – red, white and green – before progressing to the ‘bunga bunga’ session in a “disco-like room”.

The women explained these events started with them stripping off, engaging in sexually provocative acts and later ended with Berlusconi paying to have sex with one or multiple of them.

They said: “Female participants engaged in dressing up, striptease and erotic dances, touching each other or touching and being touched in their intimate parts by Silvio Berlusconi.”

Those chosen for “the night in an intimate relationship” were paid with money, expensive gifts and rent-free accommodation.

Sex acts on statue

The most damning testimonies about the parties came from Ambra Battilana and Chiara Danese, two women who had been promised jobs on TV in exchange for their participation.

Recalling the events, Ambra claimed some of the girls “uncovered their breasts offering them to Berlusconi so he could kiss them” within 15 minutes of it starting.

She added: “They also touched the prime minister’s intimate parts and made him touch theirs.”

Ambra alleged that Berlusconi called the women “my little girls” and they referred to him as “Papi” and sang “thank goodness for Silvio”.

Chiara revealed the leader would make “obscene jokes” throughout the parties and ask the girls: “Are you ready for bunga bunga?”

She says he would then bring out a statue of a man, described as the size of a half-litre water bottle, that had “a huge penis” that was “disproportionately big”. 

Chiara added: “Berlusconi begins passing it around among the girls. And he asks them to kiss the penis. 

“They kiss it and simulate oral sex with it, or they approach him with bared breasts. They all laugh.”

Obama mask stripteases

Italian police discovered more after wiretapping the phones of women, who had attended the parties, including finding out about “hard-core” strip teases. 

Attendee Maria Makdoum said: “The other girls also danced, showing their breasts and their bottoms and they all went near the prime minister who touched them in their intimate parts.”

Another leaked transcript appeared to show TV personality Dario ‘Lele’ Mora – one of many alleged to have been part of Berlusconi’s “vast pimping network” – arranging for prostitutes to attend the soirees. 

In one recording, he told a woman: “Do you have a nurse’s outfit? Go get one today.”

Mora also instructed her to wear nothing underneath the clothing apart from white suspenders for a “private health visit”.

Embarrassingly for Berlusconi, who tried to cultivate a macho self-image throughout his life, the women were less than flattering about his appearance.

Leaked recordings heard the women describe Berlusconi as old, fat and flabby, as well as stating that he should pay more money otherwise they would steal from his house.

At Berlusconi’s trial, Imane Fadil – who died mysteriously in 2019 – described how some women perform risque pole dance routines in various costumes.

During these dances, the women described being instructed to wear nuns outfits as well as masks of famous people including Barack Obama, Ronaldinho and the prosecutor investigating the politician.

'$5m for silence'

Karima, whose arrest brought the scandal to light, testified that the 'bunga bunga' parties soon quickly descended into orgies among male and female guests.

During the trial, she insisted that the former PM had not slept with her and praised him for acting responsibly with her.

Karima said: “It’s the first time in my life that a man has not tried to take me to bed. He behaved like a father, I swear.”

She was paid $7,000 after the 2010 Valentine’s Day party, which happened while she was underage at 17 years old, and soon her testimony was challenged. 

In leaked recordings, Karima was heard telling friends that she demanded $5million in exchange for her silence and that the leader had offered to “cover her in gold” to keep her quiet.

Police wiretaps revealed Karima attended Berlusconi’s villa 13 times between February and May 2010.

In 2013, Berlusconi was found guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his office.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from holding public office for life but was released one year later after appealing his conviction. 

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Berlusconi's death followed his health deteriorating last month after developing a lung infection while battling leukaemia.

He had the condition "for some time" and was reportedly awaiting the results of a blood cancer diagnosis.

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