Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, November 7, 2022

In a Run-Down Roman Villa, a Princess From Texas Awaits Her Next Act

Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi has been locked in a battle over her late husband’s estate with her three stepsons. Prince Nicolò Francesco Boncompagni Ludovisi died in 2018 leaving behind an epic noble family feud over his estate, which has gained attention from global media.

The princess is American born, the daughter of a Texas rancher who became a political opposition researcher, congressional wife, model, horror film starlet, and real estate agent. The Roman prince was her third husband, and since his death, the princess served as a tour guide of the villa they shared, which is a former hunting lodge in the heart of Rome that has been in the family for over 400 years. It boasts a Caravaggio on the ceiling, lavish frescoes by Guercino, works by Bril, Domenichino, Pomarancio, and Viola, and a statute attributed to Michelangelo. 

She insists her husband’s will gave her half of the entire estate and as a widow, she is in her right to continue to inhabit the villa, while the family says she owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid rent. An Italian judge, who has grown sick of the lawsuits over the estate, has ordered the villa be publicly auctioned. The original asking price in January was $531 million.

The villa was put up for auction a fourth time last month via a website that deals with bankruptcy property. The courts have stipulated that whoever purchases the property must cover restoration costs, estimated around $11 million.

For more information see Jason Horowitz “In a Run-Down Roman Villa, a Princess From Texas Awaits Her Next Act”, The New York Times, March 4, 2022 and “Rome villa with Caravaggio mural is up for auction a fourth time,” Wanted in Rome, October 17, 2022.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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