Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and his British business partner Benjamin Harnwell have been evicted from the 800-year-old mountaintop monastery in Italy where they intended to launch a school for far-right nationalists.
The move, first reported by the Art Newspaper, came after a prolonged legal battle waged in Italian courts. The Council of State, the top administrative court in the country, ruled in March that the government had the right to revoke the 19-year lease on the monastery, called the Certosa di Trisulti, that it had granted to Bannon and Harnwell in 2017. The tribunal’s decision overturned a previous ruling made by a regional administrative court in 2020.
The Dignitatis Humanae Institute, as Bannon and Harnwell’s organization is named, was ordered to leave by July 26.
Now, Harnwell, who had been living on the property, plans to appeal the court’s decision. “My objective is to clear my name,” he told the Art Newspaper. The British conservative is also facing criminal charges, brought by the Rome public prosecutor’s office, for falsifying claims on his application to lease the Certosa di Trisulti, as well as for failure to pay rent. A hearing is set for November.
The Trisulti Monastery Certosa di Trisulti in Collepardo. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli /AFP/Getty Images.
Meanwhile, the Italian culture ministry is hoping to open the 13th-century monastery up to the public. The state agency has teamed up with the Trisulti Bene Comune, a coalition of local representatives and organizations, as it plots the next stage for the site, which is a national monument.
Though long-term plans are still in the discussion stage, some ideas being considered include turning the structure into a training school for heritage administrators or returning it to the monastic order.
Earlier this year, Harnwell told the New Yorker that his school, the Academy for the Judeo-Christian West, had received upwards of 5,000 applicants. Bannon, for his part, said the goal was “to generate the next Tom Cottons, Mike Pompeos, Nikki Haleys: that next generation that follows Trump.”
Harnwell and the Dignitatis Humanae Institute did not respond to requests for comment.
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