The Daily Telegraph

Princess kicked out of villa with Caravaggio ceiling fresco

Texas-born actress told to leave Rome palazzo after inheritanc­e dispute and failure to sell for cut price

- By Nick Squires in Rome

A PRINCESS born in Texas faces eviction from a palazzo in Rome with the world’s only ceiling painting by Caravaggio, after the property failed to sell at auction for the fifth time.

A judge has ordered Princess Rita Jenrette Boncompagn­i Ludovisi to vacate the Villa Ludovisi, in the centre of the Italian capital, within 60 days.

The sale of the 16th-century villa was ordered by an Italian court in 2021 after it ruled that an acrimoniou­s dispute between the princess and her three stepchildr­en – the sons of her late husband, Prince Nicolò Boncompagn­i Ludovisi – had become intractabl­e.

When it was first put up for auction early last year, the asking price was €471 million (£417 million).

The figure has gradually been whittled down after the villa failed to sell during successive auctions. When it was offered for sale again on Thursday, the asking price was €145million. But, even at that price, the palazzo, which is full of art including a statue of the Greek god Pan that has been attributed to Michelange­lo, failed to find any bidders.

The Italian hard-right government under Giorgia Meloni, its prime minister, has said it would like to buy the property and open it to the public, but not at the current asking price. “The price is still very high,” said Lucia Borgonzoni, an Italian senator.

The princess, 73, has been accused of failing to properly maintain the grounds and the house, which she denied.

Born Rita Carter in San Antonio, Texas, the princess worked as an actress in her youth, appearing in films such as Zombie Island Massacre and the television show Fantasy Island, in which she played Nurse Heavenly.

She told The Daily Telegraph: “I’m so shocked. I’m feeling pretty stressed and I’m not sleeping well.

“I devoted the last 20 years of my life to this place and now they’re telling me to leave. My husband’s will gave me the right of use for life and my three stepsons know that.”

She has instructed her lawyers to contest the eviction order.

She said she had digitally catalogued more than 100,000 historical documents kept at the villa, including a letter from Marie Antoinette to King Louis XVI of France.

The property is best known for its Caravaggio ceiling painting, which was painted by the Italian artist in 1597.

She said: “I have done all I can to assist with the sale of the villa. But it really should have been handled by Sotheby’s or Christie’s rather than an Italian tribunal.

“We will respond vigorously to the court order that I should leave.”

 ?? ?? On his high horse A Palestinia­n boy rears a steed on the beach in Sheikh Ijlin, a neighbourh­ood in the south of Gaza City.
On his high horse A Palestinia­n boy rears a steed on the beach in Sheikh Ijlin, a neighbourh­ood in the south of Gaza City.

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