The auction of a Roman villa containing a mural by Caravaggio attracts no bidders
An auction for a Roman villa with a ceiling mural by Italian painter Caravaggio that is at the center of an inheritance dispute has been postponed after receiving no bidders. File photo by Riccardo Antimiani/EPA-EFE
January 18 (UPI) — An auction for a 16th-century Roman villa containing the only ceiling mural by Italian painter Caravaggio has been postponed after attracting no bids on Tuesday.
Villa Aurora went up for auction with a starting price of $533 million but no bidders registered their bids by Monday’s midnight deadline, so the auction was pushed back to April 7 and the price has been reduced by 20%, Beniamo Mioloto, lawyer for the current occupant of the villa, confirmed to The Guardian.
The villa was at the center of an inheritance dispute between Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi – the American-born widow of the villa’s late owner, Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi – and her three stepsons.
Before her husband’s death, the princess was credited with restoring the property, which was once made inaccessible to visitors by chest-high weeds, allowing researchers to excavate the grounds, resulting in several discoveries. historically significant, including a chest full of letters from Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.
“It was truly a journey of love,” the princess said. “Basically, we sacrificed everything, my husband and I, for this house and for his family.”
After the prince died in 2017, a lien was placed on the property and his sons from a previous marriage challenged their father’s will, which the princess said left her 50% of the villa’s value and the right to use it for life.
An Italian court ruled in September that the villa would be auctioned off.
Much of the villa’s asking price has been attributed to Caravaggio, but other ceilings in the villa were also frescoed by the Baroque painter Guercino.
A potential buyer would also be required to pay around $12 million in repairs.
The site is protected by the Ministry of Culture and once a bid has been agreed at the auction, the state will have the option of purchasing the property at the same price.
More than 35,000 people signed a petition last week urging the government to buy the villa.