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Princess in villa with unique Caravaggio faces eviction

Aurora (1621) by Guercino

ROME — A US-born princess who lives in a Roman villa featuring the world’s only known mural by Italian baroque artist Caravaggio said on Friday she faced eviction from the unique property at the center of a raging inheritance battle.

A court in Rome served an eviction notice to Princess Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi after part of an outside wall of the residence, known as Casino dell’Aurora, collapsed, forcing the closure of a nearby street.

Princess Boncompagni Ludovisi told Reuters she had been given 60 days to vacate the property, saying was “stunned” by the decision and would definitely appeal.

She adding that she believed the court’s decision had been influenced by the fact she had offered unauthorized paying tours of the mansion, which is under court oversight as part of a judicial process to sell it at auction.

She said the tours were organized to raise money for maintenance.

The Casino dell’Aurora was put under the hammer in January 2022, with a minimum bidding price of around €350 million ($380 million), making it potentially one of the most expensive homes in the world.

That auction attracted no bids, and the four that followed also failed, despite a progressively lower asking price. A fifth auction closed on Thursday with a minimum bidding price of €108.5 million.

Princess Boncompagni Ludovisi, a former actress, Playboy model, ex-wife of a US congressman and New York real estate broker, married the late Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi, scion of one of Europe’s most aristocratic families, in 2009.

Following the prince’s death in 2018, she has been locked in an inheritance feud with her three stepsons that is meant to be resolved with the sale of the 2,800-square meter villa that has been her home.

Its 2.75-meter-wide Caravaggio painted ceiling, commissioned in 1597 and valued at €310 million, depicts an allegorical scene with the gods Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto representing the transformation of lead into gold. — Reuters

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