A Playboy model-turned-aristocrat has defied an Italian judge’s ruling demanding that she vacate a 16th-century villa that houses a unique Caravaggio ceiling fresco.
On top of a bitter ownership feud with the sons of her late husband, Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi has been accused of neglecting the historical building.
Villa Aurora, estimated to be worth some $539 million, has the world’s only Caravaggio mural, which depicts the gods Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, major deities of the Ancient Roman pantheon.
The princess has been embroiled in a long-running inheritance dispute with the three sons of her late husband, Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi, after his death in 2018.
A judge in Rome has since ruled the property is not being properly maintained after the collapse of a wall. The court also found that the US-born Princess Rita, who married into one of Italy’s most distinguished noble families, had allegedly organized unauthorized tours of the villa – which she denies.
“I intend to vigorously defend my right of use,” Princess Rita told the media, commenting on the court’s decision.
While the late aristocrat did give his wife the right to stay in the villa for the rest of her life in his will, his sons – Francesco, Ignazio, and Bante – objected and took the issue to court.
The parties involved in the feud agreed to put the residence up for auction, but so far it has failed to attract any bidders. On Thursday, a fifth auction of the property closed with no prospective buyers.
With the villa under the protection of Italy’s Ministry of Culture, there is a possibility that the state will eventually buy it. Princess Rita, however, has expressed doubt whether Italy “can pay such a high price.”