(Update: adds auction ends without buyer)
Rome, Jan 18 (EFE).- A Rome villa that is home to the only ceiling mural painted by Italian painter Caravaggio went unsold at auction on Tuesday.
The Villa de la Aurora, a six-story palace in the heart of the Italian capital, was priced at 471 million euros ($528 million) – which would have made it the most expensive property ever sold. A minimum bid had been set at 353 million euros.
Another auction will be held on April 7, with the starting bid 20% lower, sources told Efe.
The auction had been slated to last 24 hours, but was abandoned shortly after it began at 3pm due to a lack of buyers.
The historic 2,800 square meter residence of the Ludovisi family, whose members include Popes Gregory XIII and Gregory XV, was ordered to be put up for auction by a court looking to settle an inheritance dispute between the children from the first marriage of the late Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi, who died in 2018, and his third wife, American-born actor Rita Jenrette, who has been residing in the villa.
The palace, which was once one of the centers of power in Rome but is now dark, cold and damp from disuse, also boasts numerous art works, paintings, sculptures and books, as well as the fresco by baroque artist Guercino that lends its name to the villa.
A Rome court has ordered the property to be put under the hammer after Prince Ludovisi’s heirs were unable to maintain it and needed to settle a tax debt.
Appraiser Alessandro Zuccari, historian at the University of La Sapienza, has estimated the building at 432 million euros albeit reluctantly, stressing in his report that “at present there are no valuation parameters” and that it is “priceless”. EFE