An imposing mansion in the heart of Roma, valued at 471 million euros (about R$ 2.9 billion), which houses the only ceiling mural by the Italian painter Caravaggio, did not attract any interested buyers during an auction held this week. The initial bid was 350 million euros (more than R$ 2 billion).
the owner of Villa AuroraTexas-born Rita Carpenter — and better known as Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, third and final wife of the late Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi — said she will try to sell again in three months.
The second sale attempt, which is being carried out by the Fallco Zucchetti auction house, will take place on April 7, and will feature a 20% price reduction and an initial bid of 282 million euros. ).
“After receiving the news, Princess Rita is sad but serene. It is an auction that has received worldwide attention and the value of the property remains incredibly high,” Milioti said in a statement.
Most of the infrastructure was demolished in the 19th century, and Villa Aurora is the only remaining part of the larger Villa Ludovisi, a 16th-century house that was considered “one of the great wonders of the world”, according to art historian Claudio Strinati, in a column published in the daily newspaper “La Repubblica”.
The Boncompagni Ludovisi family is descended from Pope Gregory XV, and Villa Aurora has been at the center of a bitter legal dispute between Rita Carpenter and the children of her late husband’s previous marriage. Carpenter told CNN that she has lived on the property for 20 years. But an Italian judge ordered the house to be put up for auction.
But maintaining the property won’t be cheap. One of the conditions for those who buy the property will be to spend 11 million euros (approximately R$ 67 million) in restoration expenses.
“I hope an angel buys the house and they understand the depth of the story here,” Carpenter told CNN.
A few steps from Via Veneto, the iconic street honored by the director of “La Dolce Vita”, Federico Fellini, Villa Aurora is flanked by a garden and several garages, covering a total of 2,800 square meters (just over half an acre), according to public sale documents published by the Ministry of Justice.
The six-story property houses numerous works of art, including an oil painting on the wall attributed to Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, better known simply as Caravaggio, whose body of work has become synonymous with the artist’s visceral depictions of violence.
Spanning the ceiling of a small room measuring 2.75 square meters, Caravaggio’s mural at Villa Aurora depicts three gods – Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto – gathered around a translucent globe.
The work was commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, in 1597, who would have used the room as an alchemical laboratory, according to an expert order commissioned by a court and released by the ministry.
The painting has an estimated value of more than €310 million, according to Alessandro Zuccari, a professor of modern art history at the Sapienza University of Rome.
Zuccari, who was called by the court to estimate the artwork inside the property, concluded in his review that Caravaggio’s painting is “priceless, being the only mural by one of the greatest painters of the modern era”.
The mansion also has frescoes by the Baroque painter Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino, who worked on the villa between 1621 and 1623. Among Guercino’s works are the fresco of Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, which was painted for Pope’s nephew. Gregory XV, Alessandro Ludovisi.
If the property attracts a bidder in the April auction, by law the Italian government can match the winning bid and take possession of the property. For art historian Elizabeth Lev, this would be the ideal solution.
“There is nothing I would like more than to see it in the hands of the Italian state so that we can continue to enjoy it,” she told CNN. “They [as obras] they need a lot of restoration, but even so, there is tremendous work from one room to another. You’re looking at masterpieces […] and absolutely unique examples in the history of art”.
*Ben Wedeman and Jacqui Palumbo contributed to this story.
This content was originally created in English.
Reference: CNN Brasil