Bitter dispute pushes princely Italian family to put 400-year-old family home on the market, but finding a buyer at that price isn't easy.
The sale of a 16th-century villa in Rome containing the only ceiling mural ever painted by the Italian master Caravaggio has been rescheduled and the asking price reduced by 20% after an auction on Tuesday failed to attract any bids, the Guardian reports.
Villa Aurora was put on the market for €471m (£393m) amid a bitter inheritance dispute between the three sons of the villa’s last owner, the late Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi, and his American-born wife, Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi.
Bidders had to register their offers before midnight on Monday ahead of an online auction on Tuesday afternoon. Beniamino Milioto, a lawyer for the princess, confirmed there were no offers and that the auction had been rescheduled for 7 April with a 20% reduction in price.
Villa Aurora, surrounded by high walls close to the Via Veneto in central Rome, is all that remains of a retreat established by Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte in the 16th century. Caravaggio’s Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto mural was commissioned by Del Monte in 1597 to adorn the ceiling of his small alchemy laboratory. The Ludovisis, a noble family with close ties to the papacy, bought the property from Del Monte in 1621.
Any buyer would also have to stump up a further €11m in restoration costs. In the past, Bill Gates is said to have been interested in acquiring the villa.
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