US princess evicted from Rome villa that has $340-million mural
Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi is involved in an inheritance dispute with the sons of her late husband
Princess Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi, the widow of Italian noble Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi, was evicted on Thursday from the villa she shared with her husband in central Rome, amid a bitter inheritance dispute with the prince’s sons.
The 453-year-old villa is the only known private residence in the world to house a ceiling mural painted by the Italian baroque master Caravaggio (1571-1610) – artwork estimated to be worth more than $340 million alone.
In a video posted to social media this week, Princess Rita described her eviction from the property at the decree of Rome’s Judge Miriam Iapelli in January, which was carried out by the city’s law enforcement, as “illegal” and “unnecessary.” She added that she was being “brutally evicted from a home which I have lovingly taken care of for the past 20 years.”
A bitter legal dispute between Princess Rita and Prince Nicolo’s three sons from a previous marriage ensued after his death in 2018. She had claimed that Nicolo’s will entitled her to live at the property for the rest of her life and that, if Villa Ludovisi was sold, that the proceeds would be distributed between her and Nicolo’s sons.
The sons, meanwhile, argued that Prince Nicolo’s father – their grandfather – had always intended for the house to be left to them.
An Italian court ruled in January that the home must be sold in order to settle the dispute. The judge also stated that Princess Rita had failed to maintain the property adequately, and that she had violated an order forbidding her from giving paid tours of the villa.
An initial auction placed the home’s value at $520 million. However, that listing, along with three subsequent auctions, failed to attract any bids. The most recent attempt to sell the villa was in October of last year, for $198 million – although this also didn’t result in a sale.
The court also stated that any belongings left in the property – which has had its lock changed per Italian law – be “disposed of or destroyed.” This could, Rutgers University professor Corey Brennan warned, result in the destruction of various artefacts.
“The villa is absolutely stuffed full of precious objects,” he said to The Art Newspaper in comments published on Friday. “Rita did take some of her personal effects but left everything else.”
Prior to her marriage in 2009 to Prince Nicolo, the then-Rita Carpenter had married US lawmaker John Jenrette, who was imprisoned in the US amid a bribery scandal in 1980.
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