The historic sale of the Villa Aurora (2022): resources and media coverage

In recent months the Villa Aurora in Rome has attracted massive global press attention, thanks to a judicial auction in Italy that is forcing its sale. The initial asking price? 471 million euros, which observers quickly noted was the highest sum ever asked for a private residence. A first round, held online 18 January 2022, reportedly had no bids. A second round is slated for 7 April 2022, with an automatic 20% reduction in price—which achieved, would still make the Villa the most expensive home in the world.

If one wanted to be charitable, the initial phase of the auction could be called a “soft launch”. It was on 28 September 2021 that the firm of Fallco Zucchetti first advertised the judicial sale on its website and posted an accompanying video on YouTube. A letter—so said later media reports—also was sent to the 20,000 richest individuals in the world to tell them of the auction.

However it took until 16 October 2021 for Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi herself to learn of the sale, despite the fact that she has a life residency in the Villa according to the express terms of the will of her late husband, Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi. At that point, notwithstanding the reported mass mailing to a large and confidential list, the YouTube video produced by Fallco Zucchetti had received just 28 views.

By the third week of October it was a different story. The news of the Villa Aurora auction broke first in Italian papers, then elsewhere in Europe, and within the space of a few days finally throughout the world. The story sparked high-level academic debate on the Villa’s value, a significant grass-roots petition asking the Italian state to find the funds to buy the residence, and (somewhat predictably) a plethora of less lofty takes.

Below we’ve gathered a few general resources on the Villa Aurora and some of the most representative useful reporting on its sale, especially in the English-language press. It must be emphasized that this represents just a fraction of the news items; for continuing coverage that aims to be comprehensive, please see our Twitter account @villaludovisi

SELECT TELEVISION COVERAGE OF SALE:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RmjVmaJco4 [CBS MORNINGS]

https://www.nbcnews.com/now/video/italian-villa-could-become-most-expensive-property-ever-sold-131029573968 [NBC News]

https://www.lci.fr/international/video-rome-cette-maison-pourrait-devenir-l-une-des-plus-cheres-au-monde-2207305.html#xtor=CS5-113 [France’s TF1]

NEW YORK POST ARTICLE ON VILLA AURORA SALE:
https://nypost.com/2021/10/28/italian-villa-with-worlds-only-caravaggio-mural-on-sale-for-547m/

FORBES ARTICLE AND VIDEO ON AUCTION OF VILLA AURORA:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2021/12/12/meet-the-texas-born-italian-princess-whos-selling-a-532-million-roman-villa-with-a-caravaggio-ceiling/?sh=a55cf986374a

THE NATIONAL (ABU DHABI) ARTICLE ON SALE:

https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/2022/01/14/romes-villa-aurora-is-the-most-expensive-home-ever-put-to-market-yours-for-539m/

NPR ARTICLE AND RADIO FEATURE ON VILLA AURORA SALE

https://www.npr.org/2022/01/17/1073592203/villa-aurora-princess-rita-boncompagni-ludovisi#:~:text=Music%20Of%202021-,Rome’s%2016th%20century%20Villa%20Aurora%20to%20hit%20auction%20block%20at,starting%20price%20of%20%24534%20million

NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON SALE (balanced):

ANOTHER NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON SALE (hostile):

SMITHSONIAN, GUARDIAN ARTICLES ON ROUND 1 OF SALE:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/roman-estate-with-priceless-caravaggio-goes-up-for-salebut-attracts-no-buyers-180979422/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/18/auction-of-roman-villa-with-caravaggio-mural-fails-to-attract-any-bids

CNN (video)

http://edition.cnn.com/style/article/rome-villa-aurora-caravaggio-mural-intl-scli/index.html?utm_medium=social&utm_term=video&utm_source=twCNN&utm_content=2022-01-21T08%3A10%3A39

ASSOCIATED PRESS (article and video)

https://apnews.com/article/business-europe-arts-and-entertainment-texas-rome-93a7f377bb3e99d726dd9e3605c14b32

REUTERS (VIDEO)

EURONEWS (VIDEO)

CGTN (VIDEO)

PODCASTS ON SALE:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eM9xMKUK60&list=PL38m4_KjKKxcshfPh9mqESA3lX3w927Xd&index=20 [THE ART NEWSPAPER]

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-auction-of-a-lifetime/id843351111?i=1000548779258 [BITTERSWEET LIFE]

SCHOLARLY ARTICLE ON SALE (prof.ssa Raffaella Morselli):
https://villaludovisi.org/2021/11/28/interview-with-raffaella-morselli-from-aboutart-online-important-news-on-guercino-at-villa-ludovisi-the-sale-of-the-villa-the-estimate-is-correct-now-italys-minister-of/ [Raffaella Morselli of University of Teramo]

OVERVIEW OF ANTIQUITIES AT VILLA:

SCHOLARLY LECTURE ON SALE (prof. Corey Brennan):

TOUR OF VILLA AURORA HIGHLIGHTS WITH HSH PRINCESS RITA BONCOMPAGNI LUDOVISI (video):

RESEARCH PROJECT WEBSITES:
https://villaludovisi.org [main]
https://twitter.com/villaludovisi [latest news]
https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/archivio-boncompagni-ludovisi
[Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi partner site with Google Arts & Culture]
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm2VBi0SdFh3T8P-S8AnO3w [project YouTube channel]

TRAILER FOR FEATURE FILM, ‘THE PRINCESS OF PIOMBINO’:

DISCOVERY OF CEILING PAINTINGS FROM 1570s IN VILLA AURORA (2017):

NEW DIAGNOSTIC STUDIES OF GUERCINO’S FRESCOES IN VILLA AURORA (2019, 2021):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCy1IzZCrEQ&t=658s [PRESENTATION OF RESULTS]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9YdHPLOklw&t=4s [COMMENTS by prof. David M Stone]

NEW NON-INTRUSIVE UNDERGROUND EXPLORATIONS OF AREA OF VILLA AURORA (“The value of the Roman ruins has not yet been estimated, so the Casino dell’Aurora, in the second call of the auction, could be sold at a price far below the cultural and historical legacy it represents”):

SELECT PAST COVERAGE OF VILLA AND RESTORATION EFFORTS BY PRINCE NICOLÒ & PRINCESS RITA BONCOMPAGNI LUDOVISI:

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/16/greathomesanddestinations/16iht-rerome.html [NEW YORK TIMES 2010 “U.S.-Born Princess Opens Historic Villa to the Public”]

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/principessa-rita-a-fairytale-life/ [CBS SUNDAY MORNING 2017]

HSH PRINCE NICOLÒ BONCOMPAGNI LUDOVISI REMEMBERED:

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