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Rome villa with Caravaggio fresco put to auction

Starting price 471 million euros, Bill Gates, emir 'interested'

(ANSA) - ROME, JAN 18 - Casino dell'Aurora, a Rome villa that hosts the world's only surviving Caravaggio fresco, goes up for auction on Tuesday.
    The procedure to sell the Renaissance villa, whose artistic jewels include Caravaggio's Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto mural, started at 15:00 and will last 24 hours.
    The starting price is 471 million euros and the reserve is set at 353.25 million.
    The villa is being auctioned off after the heirs of an Italian nobleman, Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi, failed to reach an agreement for the future of the residence following his death in 2018.
    His widow, 72-year-old Texas-born former American actress, television journalist, and real estate executive Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, told Reuters that Bill Gates and a Qatari emir were among those to have expressed an interest in the 2,800-square-metre property.
    The villa also features five rooms with frescoes by Guercino, sculptures, statues and a splendid garden, although much of the building needs a makeover.
    A petition has been launched via Change.org calling on Culture Minister Dario Franceschini to intervene and take out its option to buy the home and its artworks. (ANSA).


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