Casino dell'Aurora goes under the hammer again after failing to sell at auction three times.
An historic Rome villa with the world's only known ceiling painting by Caravaggio is up for auction, on 18 October, for the fourth time in less than a year.
The new reserve for the Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, also known as Villa Aurora, has been slashed a third time, after three previous court-ordered auctions failed to attract a single bid.
The villa's original asking price on 18 January was a colossal €471 million, reduced to €376 million on 30 April, and again on 30 June to €301 million.
When Casino dell'Aurora is put on the block on Tuesday, the base asking price will be €241 million, with a minimum opening bid of €180 million.
The auction will be once again be online, at 15.00, via a website that deals with bankruptcy property, ranging from apartments and second-hand cars to farmyard machinery and power tools.
In addition to its Caravaggio mural - an allegorical scene measuring 2.75 metres wide - the villa contains lavish frescoes by Guercino, works by Bril, Domenichino, Pomarancio and Viola, a staircase by architect Carlo Maderno, and a statue attributed to Michelangelo.
The courts have stipulated that whoever purchases the property – protected by Italian cultural heritage laws – must spend a further €11 million on restoration costs.
Under Italian law, the state has a 60-day window to exercise its right of first refusal after a sale agreement to a private buyer.
However even with the newly reduced price the state may be unable to purchase the property or unwilling to set a precedent by doing so.
Why is the villa up for auction?
The sale is the result of a bitter inheritance battle following the death in 2018 of Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi, whose family has owned the property near Via Veneto for the last 400 years.
The dispute is between the prince's three sons from his first marriage, and his third wife, the American-born Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, 72, who spent much of the last two decades renovating the 2,800-sqm property with her late husband.
The prince's sons contested their father's will, which the princess says entitles her to live in Villa Aurora for the rest of her life and, that if sold, the proceeds would be split between her and her stepsons.
After the two sides failed to reach an agreement, the courts ordered that the 11-bedroom villa be put up for auction.
For insights into the property's rich history, in English, see the Archivio Digitale Boncompagni Ludovisi.
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Rome villa with Caravaggio mural is up for auction a fourth time
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