Once, twice, sold? Rome villa with Caravaggio up for auction

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FILE - Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi stands beneath a fresco by Italian Baroque creator Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known arsenic Guercino, wrong The Casino dell'Aurora, besides known arsenic Villa Ludovisi, successful Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. The villa containing the lone known ceiling painted by Caravaggio goes connected the court-ordered auction artifact Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022 with an estimated worth of astir a half-billion euros (dollars), acknowledgment to an inheritance quality pitting the heirs of 1 of Romes aristocratic families against their step-mother, a Texas-born princess. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

ROME – A Rome villa containing the lone known ceiling painted by Caravaggio is acceptable to spell connected a court-ordered auction artifact Tuesday, acknowledgment to an inheritance quality pitting the heirs of 1 of the Italian capital's aristocratic families against their step-mother, a Texas-born princess.

Princess Rita Jenrett Boncompagni Ludovisi, formerly known arsenic Rita Carpenter, woke up Tuesday greeting successful the Casa dell’Aurora surrounded by her dogs, arsenic usual, connected what mightiness beryllium the past time that her location of astir 2 decades is really hers.

An online auction organized by the Rome tribunal is planned to commencement astatine 3 p.m. sharp. The starting bid is acceptable astatine 353 cardinal euros ($400 million), and the villa conscionable disconnected the celebrated Via Veneto has an worth of 471 cardinal euros ($533 million).

“It’s been affectional since I received the announcement from the justice connected Sept. 2. I’ve seldom slept,” Boncompagni Ludovisi told The Associated Press successful 1 of her sitting rooms a fewer hours earlier the auction began. “It’s similar going done the stages of decease and dying. ... You’re aggravated astatine first, and past you can’t judge it, and past you yet spell into a constituent of accepting it.”


The house, built successful 1570, has been successful the Ludovisi household since the aboriginal 1600s. After Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi died successful 2018, the villa became the taxable of an inheritance quality betwixt the children from his archetypal matrimony and his 3rd wife, Princess Rita.

The villa, besides known arsenic Villa Ludovisi, is 1 of 42 tons up for court-ordered auction Tuesday, alongside immoderate store slots (valued astatine 4,000-7,000 euros each) and different residential properties.

But Villa Aurora is by acold the astir prestigious and expensive, acknowledgment successful large portion to the Caravaggio that graces an different nondescript country disconnected a spiral staircase starring to the 2nd floor.

It was commissioned successful 1597 by a diplomat and patron of the arts who asked the then-young creator to decorate the ceiling of a tiny country being utilized arsenic an alchemy workshop. The 2.75-meter (9-foot) wide mural, which depicts Jupiter, Pluto and Neptune, is unusual: It’s not a fresco, but alternatively lipid connected plaster, and represents the lone ceiling mural that Caravaggio is known to person made.


The listing connected the Rome tribunal’s auction tract highlights the Caravaggio among the home's attributes but notes the villa volition request an estimated 11 cardinal euros ($12.5 million) successful renovations to comply with existent standards.

The “monumental property” connected six levels is “among the astir prestigious architectural and scenery beauties of pre-unification Rome,” with 3 garages, 2 extortion terraces and a “splendid plot with arboreal essences and gangly trees, pedestrian paths, stairs and remainder areas,” the listing states.

With specified an astronomical terms tag, it’s rather imaginable nary 1 volition bid connected it. Boncompagni Ludovisi said would-be buyers came to look astatine the spot implicit respective weeks. She is not allowed to uncover their identities, and the caller proprietor - if 1 emerges - whitethorn not beryllium known until a aboriginal date.

If nary bids are made successful the archetypal round, the villa volition spell up for auction 2 much times astatine little prices, Boncompagni Ludovisi said. The Italian Culture Ministry tin effort to lucifer the highest bid astatine immoderate signifier fixed the property's worth arsenic a portion of Italy’s taste heritage.


The American princess, who antecedently was joined to erstwhile U.S. Rep. John Jenrette Jr. of South Carolina, joined Boncompagni Ludovisi successful 2009. At the time, the villa had fallen into disrepair, and her hubby lone utilized it arsenic an office.

Together, they tried to renovate it arsenic champion they could, she said. They opened the location up to visiting students and circuit groups, hosted dinners to bring successful gross and arranged for the family's archive to beryllium digitized.

“I had ever wanted to crook it into a museum, actually, but that’s not going to happen, I presume,” Boncompagni Ludovisi said. “So my anticipation is that whomever buys it volition dainty it with the attraction and emotion that my hubby and I did.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This worldly whitethorn not beryllium published, broadcast, rewritten oregon redistributed without permission.

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