A Texas-born Italian princess is fighting a court order to vacate her 16th-century Roman villa, which houses the world’s only known $335 million Caravaggio ceiling mural.
Princess Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi, 73, was given 60 days’ notice last week to leave the Casino dell’Aurora, the latest chapter in a long-standing legacy feud with her late husband’s three sons.
Ms. Boncompagni Ludovisi, a former actress, told Reuters she was “stunned” when she was ordered to leave her home and would appeal the decision.
Located in the center of Rome, the Casino dell’Aurora is built on the ancient gardens of Julius Caesar and contains works of art by famous Italian artists, such as Guercino and Caravaggio’s Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto.
After the death of her third husband, Prince Nicolò Francesco Boncompagni Ludovisi, in 2018, Ms. Boncompagni Ludovisi was allowed to live in the villa for the rest of her life, according to Reuters.
When sold, the proceeds would be divided between her and her late husband’s sons.
The Italian king’s sons disputed the terms of his will and have been embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute ever since.
The villa has since fallen into a state of disrepair and an Italian court has ordered its sale to resolve the inheritance dispute with Prince Nicolò’s sons.
It failed to sell at an online auction in January 2022, after court-appointed experts placed a minimum bid price on the villa of $380 million (350 million euros).
Four other auctions at lower values also failed to find a buyer.
After the collapse of an exterior wall near the property forced the closure of an adjacent street, a judge ruled that the property was not properly maintained and issued an eviction order, according to La Republic.
Mrs. Boncompagni Ludovisi told Reuters she thought she may have been sidelined in court after offering unauthorized paid tours of the property to help with maintenance costs.
According to the The Bharat Express News, the villa was built in 1570 and has belonged to the Ludovisi family since the early 1600s.
A previous listing at the Rome Tribunal’s auction describes it as a six-level “listed building” that is “one of the most prestigious architectural and scenic beauties of pre-unification Rome”.
It features three garages, two roof terraces and a “superb garden with trees and tall trees, footpaths, steps and rest areas”.
Mrs Boncompagni Ludovisi has been living in the villa for 20 years, telling the guard in a recent interview that she spent “all my time and resources” on it.
Before marrying her Italian prince, Ms. Boncompagni Ludovisi had worked in New York for television and real estate and assisted in Donald Trump’s 1998 purchase of the General Motors building in 1998, according to TBEN.
She was previously married to former North Carolina Congressman John Jenrette.
Ms Boncompagni Ludovisi did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TBEN.