Roman villa auctioned by the princess of Texas

Rome – At a villa in the center of Rome, the only known ceiling painted by Caravaggio was ordered by a court after the house was restored by the last resident, a Texas-born princess and her late husband. It is being auctioned. Of a Roman aristocratic family.

Casino dell’Aurora, also known as Villa Ludovisi, was built in 1570 and has been part of the Ludovisi family since the early 1600s. After Prince Nicolo Boncompani Ludvisio died in 2018, the villa was subject to an inheritance dispute between the children from his first marriage and his third wife, Rita Jenrette Boncompani Ludwigio. I did.

The judge recently ordered an auctioned villa scheduled for January 18th. Its value is estimated at € 471 million ($ 533 million) and the opening bid was set at € 353 million ($ 400 million).

The Roman court’s auction site highlights many of its qualities, but states that it will require € 11 million ($ 12.5 million) refurbishment to comply with current standards. The six-level “monumental property” list includes three garages, a caravaggio, two roof terraces, “arboreal essence and a wonderful tall garden” and “in pre-unification Rome”. One of the most famous architectural and scenic beauty “. Trees, pedestrian roads, stairs, rest areas. ”


The American princess, who was previously married to former US House of Representatives John Jenrette Jr., sheds tears when she thinks she’s leaving home for nearly 20 years. When she married Boncompagni Ludovisi in 2009, the villa was devastated and her new husband used it only as an office.

“I really started trying to restore it as much as possible, within the limits of the means,” Mrs. Boncompani Ludvisio said during a tour of the property on Tuesday. “Really, you need to be a millionaire, not a millionaire. If you have a house like this, a historic house, you’re a millionaire because you want to do everything right. I need to. I don’t want to do anything wrong. ”

In 2010, the couple decided to open the villa to the public for dinner with a tour group to fund ongoing maintenance and refurbishment. Aside from the Caravaggio ceiling and the lush gardens outside, the 2,800-square-meter (30,000-square-foot) house off the fashionable Veneto street has Guercino frescoes. Also, as Mrs. Boncompani Ludvisio points out, centuries-old visitors such as American and British author Henry James and Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky have gathered.


“After a while, you’ll get used to it, but I never did,” she says.

Caravaggio was commissioned in 1597 by a diplomat and a patron of the arts who asked a young painter to decorate the ceiling of a small room used as an alchemy workshop. 2.75 meters (9 feet) wide murals depicting Jupiter, Pluto, and Neptune are rare. It is not a fresco, but an oiled plaster, the only ceiling mural made by Caravaggio.

Claudio Strinati, an art historian and Caravaggio expert, said: “The choice of oiling technique for the walls probably stems from the fact that Caravaggio did not know how to paint frescoes technically.”

Mrs. Boncompagni Ludovisi hopes that eventually the Italian government will be able to acquire a villa and stay in the public domain. As a historic site protected by the Ministry of Culture, Italy can try to match the highest bids in action.


For now, she is enjoying the last moment with her treasure.

“Sometimes I go there and do yoga under Caravaggio with a yoga mat because it’s so relaxing,” she said. “And now that I know I’m leaving, I guess when that auction will happen, I cherish every moment. I cherish every moment, every memory. “

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Roman villa auctioned by the princess of Texas

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