An expelled princess refuses to leave a Roman villa that houses Caravaggio’s only mural

An inheritance battle could see a Texas-born princess take to the streets, but Princess Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi has so far defied a court order requiring her to leave Rome’s Villa Aurora. The property is known for its rare mural by Caravaggio, the only known ceiling painting by the Baroque artist.

The sale of the villa was intended to resolve an inheritance dispute between Princess Rita and her three sons-in-law. But the court put the property up for auction five times, failing to find a buyer even as the asking price fell from 471 million euros ($546 million) to 145 million euros ($157.5 million). dollars).

In the latest development, the judge handling the case has issued a 60-day eviction notice forcing Princess Rita to vacate the property. The decision came on the heels of the latest auction attempt, which took place on January 12 via online auction site Fallco Aste.

Princess Rita is “stunned” by the court’s decision and plans to appeal the ruling, she told Reuters.

Princess Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi in front of the Villa Aurora, or Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, in Rome. Photo by Alvise Armellini/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Also known as Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, the property is the ancestral home of her late husband, Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi, who died in 2018. (In his lifetime, he estimated the villa’s value at 670 million euros, or about 844 dollars. million.)

The prince said in his will that Princess Rita should be allowed to stay at Villa Aurora until her death. If the property were to be sold, she would share the proceeds with the children from her first marriage. But the prince’s three sons, Francesco, Ignazio and Bante, contested the will, leading to a long legal battle.

The 9,000 square foot property will be offered for auction again on April 6, for 108.5 million euros ($118 million). If he finally found a buyer, the Italian government, which benefits from a right of first refusal, would have the possibility of matching the purchase price.

Built as a hunting lodge in 1570, Villa Aurora was originally part of a much larger estate, Villa Ludovisi. It has belonged to the family of Prince Nicolò since 1621.

The villa’s value, of course, gets a huge boost from its many historic works of art, including works by Domenichino, Tassi, Valesio and Guercino, as well as the one-of-a-kind Caravaggio. The painting depicts the Roman gods Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, each believed to be a self-portrait of the artist. There is also some rather gratuitous frontal nudity.

Caravaggio, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto (circa 1597). Collection of the Villa Aurora.

“Sexuality in the face,” Princess Rita said of the job in a 2011 New Yorker profile. “His penis and all!”

At some point, the inhabitants of the villa concealed the allegorical work, which represents the science of alchemy. Fortunately, the paint has begun to peel, revealing traces of the hidden work, which art historian Giuliana Zandri identified as an original by Caravaggio in 1969, during renovations to the villa. The oil painting on plaster has since been restored.

The efforts of Princess Rita and Prince Nicolò to preserve the historic 16th century house have been praised by the press, including a New York Times characteristic in 2010.

Princess Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi watching Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto, the only known ceiling painting by Caravaggio, in the Villa Aurora, or Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi in Rome. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images.

“The villa was considered hopeless,” said T. Corey Brennan, a historian at Rutgers University who helped organize the villa’s records. City and countryside. “There were weeds as high as your chest. The garden really looked like it was falling into the ground. Rita and her husband stepped up and deserve a lot of credit.

But the judge’s eviction notice against Princess Rita accuses her of neglecting the historic building. One of the villa’s exterior walls recently collapsed, forcing the closure of a public street, reports The Republic. The judge also said she was offering unauthorized paid tours of the property.

The Villa Aurora, or Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, in Rome. The property, which houses Caravaggio's only ceiling mural, is up for auction to resolve an inheritance dispute, but has so far failed to find a buyer. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images.

The Villa Aurora, or Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, in Rome. The property, which houses Caravaggio’s only ceiling mural, is up for auction to resolve an inheritance dispute, but has so far failed to find a buyer. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images.

For her part, Princess Rita insisted the visits were necessary to help fund the upkeep of the house.

During the prince’s lifetime, she opened the villa to the public for the first time, acting as a tour guide for small groups. Princess Rita has even become something of a historian of the property, digitizing 150,000 historical documents found in the house, including letters from Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.

Before marrying Italian royalty in 2009, Princess Rita was a real estate agent, including helping negotiate the sale of New York’s General Motors Building to Donald Trump in 1998. She met her husband in 2003, when one of his clients were considering a deal. build a hotel in one of the prince’s properties.

Guerchin, Aurore (1622). Collection † HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Casino Aurora, Rome. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images.

Guercino, Dawn (1622). Collection † HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Casino Aurora, Rome. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images.

But that was just the final chapter in a colorful biography that included stints as a novelist, country singer, model and actress, as well as a marriage to John W. Jenrette Jr., a Democratic congressman from Carolina. from the South who went to prison. for accepting a $30,000 bribe in the Abscam scandal in the 1980s.

The ensuing media attention briefly catapulted Princess Rita to stardom, including an appearance in Playboy magazine and a best-selling memoir/expository about his time partying in DC

Now the future of the 73-year-old princess is uncertain.

“I loved my husband very much and he loved me,” Princess Rita told the Guardian. “I lived here for 20 years and devoted all my time and resources to this villa. It really didn’t have to be like this.

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. A princess expelled refuses to leave a Roman villa which shelters alone fresco mural Caravaggio

. expelled princess refuses leave Roman villa houses Caravaggios mural

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