Just a stone’s throw away from Via Veneto, the iconic street commemorated by “La Dolce Vita” director Federico Fellini, Villa Aurora is flanked by a garden and various garages and covers a total of 2,800 square meters (just over half an acre), according to public sales documents published by the Ministry of Justice.
The six-storey property houses a myriad of works of art, including an oil mural attributed to Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, better known simply as Caravaggio, whose work became synonymous with the artist’s visceral depictions of violence.
Portrait of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 17th century. Found in the collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Credit: Heritage Images / Hulton Fine Art Collection / Getty Images
Caravaggio’s Villa Aurora mural, which stretches across the ceiling in a small 2.75 square meter space (approximately 30 square meters), represents three gods – Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto – which gather around a translucent globe.
It was commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte in 1597, who would have used the space as an alchemical laboratory, according to the expertise commissioned by a court, published by the ministry.
The painting has an estimated value of more than 310 million euros ($ 360 million), according to Alessandro Zuccari, professor of modern art at the University of Sapienza in Rome.
Zuccari, who was called by the court to assess the artwork inside the property, concluded in his assessment ordered by the court that Caravaggio’s painting is “invaluable, being the only mural by one of the greatest painters of the modern age.”
The villa is also painted by the Baroque painter Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino, who worked in the villa between 1621 and 1623. Among Guercino’s works is the fresco by Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, who was painted for the nephew of Pope Gregory XV, Alessandro Ludovisi.
Aurora, 1621, by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino, fresco. Casino at Villa Ludovisi, Rome. Credit: DeAgostini / Getty Images
Villa Aurora belongs to the Boncompagni Ludovisi family, who are descendants of Pope Gregory XV. However, no details have been provided about the legal reasons underlying the auction sale.
But maintaining the property will not be cheap. One of the conditions for whoever wants to buy the property will be to spend 11 million euros in restoration costs.
As a protected art space, the state will have a right of first refusal over the villa.
The auction company Fallco Zucchetti is responsible for the sale.
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