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Italian villa containing only ceiling mural painted by Caravaggio on sale for half a BILLION euros


A sprawling Italian villa containing the only ceiling painting by Caravaggio could become the most expensive property ever sold when it goes up for auction for nearly €500million (£422million).

Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, otherwise known as Villa Aurora in Rome, was part of a country retreat built in the 16th century by Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte.

The home features a 2.75m wide painting by Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, titled Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto, which alone has been valued at €310million (£260million). 

A sprawling Italian villa containing the only ceiling painting by Caravaggio (pictured) could become the most expensive property ever sold

Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, otherwise known as Villa Aurora in Rome, was part of a country retreat built in the 16th century

Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, otherwise known as Villa Aurora in Rome, was part of a country retreat built in the 16th century

The painting in the former hunting lodge, dated around 1597, was created by Caravaggio when he was in his 20s and the three gods depicted are believed to be based on the artist’s own face.

The artwork, which is unusual in that it is painted in oils on plaster, is located in the property’s alchemy laboratory. 

The cardinal sold the villa to the noble Ludovisi family, who had close ties to the papacy, in 1621 and they still own the home to this day, although they have since sold off all other parts of the former estate.

The villa, located a stone’s throw from the Spanish Steps and the Borghese Gardens, also contains rooms frescoed by Caravaggio’s contemporary Guercino.

The villa, located a stone's throw from the Spanish Steps and the Borghese Gardens, also contains rooms frescoed by Caravaggio's contemporary Guercino (pictured)

The villa, located a stone’s throw from the Spanish Steps and the Borghese Gardens, also contains rooms frescoed by Caravaggio’s contemporary Guercino (pictured)

The property will go on auction on January 18 with an opening bid of €471million (£397million).

The most expensive home ever bought according to public sales is the £260million Pollock’s Path Estate in Hong Kong, Christie’s records say.

Alessandro Zuccari, a history professor at Sapienza University in Rome who helped value the mural, told The Guardian: ‘Del Monte bought property there, which he restructured before commissioning Caravaggio to paint the mural in his lab, which was only a very small room.

‘It’s an extraordinary work which was difficult to put a price on, seeing as it was the only mural ever done by Caravaggio and so we had nothing to compare it to.’ 

The property's sale comes after a lengthy inheritance dispute following the 2018 death of its owner Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi

The property’s sale comes after a lengthy inheritance dispute following the 2018 death of its owner Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi

World’s most expensive homes 

1. Buckingham Palace – £2.2billion 

2. Antilia, India – £1-2billion

3. Villa Leopolda, French Riviera, £550million 

4. Four Fairfield Pond, Los Angeles, £422million

5. Odeon Tower, Monaco, £281million  

The property’s sale comes after a lengthy inheritance dispute following the 2018 death of its owner Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi.

Zuccheri said other rooms in the property are spectacular but the most important are the two featuring works by Caravaggio and Guercino, describing the home as ‘unique’.  

A number of other antiques fill the corridors but dozens of Roman statues are now held at the National Roman Museum after they were bought by the Italian government.

Once a bid is accepted at auction, the state will then have the chance to buy the property at the same price because it is protected by the ministry of culture.

But it is not clear whether the government would be able to pay such a huge price for a property which has remained mostly behind closed doors for centuries.

Whoever buys it will then have to spend another €11million in restoration costs, it has been estimated. 

The property will almost certainly become the most expensive ever sold at auction, far eclipsing the £37million Beverly Hills mega mansion with 20 bedrooms which was bought this year. 

The world's most expensive private home is Antilia (pictured) in India although it has not gone on sale since it was built in 2010 for an estimated £1billion

The world’s most expensive private home is Antilia (pictured) in India although it has not gone on sale since it was built in 2010 for an estimated £1billion

If the sale goes through, it would also rival the £363million asking price for the Los Angeles pad which was previously dubbed the highest ever on the market.

Dubbed ‘The One’, the 105,000-square-foot Bel Air estate is now being sold at a far lower price after its owner defaulted on more than $165 million in debt, according to court filings.

It was placed into receivership by the Los Angeles County Superior Court as the mansion’s owner, Nile Niami, held millions in debt and loans.

Niami, a property developer, bought ‘The One’ in 2012 and has spent the last nine years promising to build the grandest home in the U.S. and flip it for a profit, but he could not finish the construction nor find a buyer since it went on sale in January.

The One is largely-finished, although it is unclear how much it will end up selling for.

The world’s most expensive private home after Buckingham Palace is Antilia in India although it has not gone on sale since it was built in 2010 for an estimated £1billion.



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