The sprawling Casino dell’Aurora will be put up for sale again in April, with the base price of €471 million ($534 million) lowered by about 20 percent, according to the notary involved in the sale.
“Nobody took part in the auction,” Camillo Verde told AFP, saying the next sale would take place on April 7th at 2pm Rome time.
The building is a Baroque jewel with gorgeous gardens and a valuable art collection that also includes frescoes by Guercino.
The base price has been lowered from €471 million to €376.8 million, Verde said.
However, this is the property’s value – the starting price for bids at auction on Tuesday was €353 million. In the next sale attempt, this will reportedly be lowered to €282 million.
Any possible bids should have been made no more than 24 hours after the opening of the auction, which would have been January 19th at 3pm.
But there was no need. The €471 million estimate of the property, and the €353 million minimum bid, were clearly over-the-top figures despite the calibre of the artworks housed.
The auction was only open to those who can put up 10 percent of the starting price of €353 million, but the auction was empty and didn’t attract rumoured buyers such as Bill Gates and the Sultan of Brunei.
The residence of the noble Ludovisi Boncompagni family for hundreds of years, the 2,800-square-metre (30,000 square feet) Casino dell’Aurora is located in central Rome between the Via Veneto and the Spanish Steps.
The auction was ordered by a Rome court following a dispute among the heirs of Prince Nicolo Ludovisi Boncompagni, the head of the family who died in 2018.
The dispute is between the prince’s third and final wife, Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi, a 72-year-old American former real estate broker and actor who once posed for Playboy, and the children from his first marriage.
Almost 40,000 people have called on the Italian government to exercise “its pre-emptive right” to buy the building and the Caravaggio, which alone is valued at €350 million, according to a petition on Change.org.
Under Italian law, the government can only do this after the sale to a private individual, and then within 60 days of the sale’s completion – and for the same price.
The Italian state itself regularly auctions off grand palazzi and other unusual buildings, usually due to the high cost of maintenance.
The oil mural by Caravaggio, whose real name was Michelangelo Merisi, dates to 1597 and is located on the ceiling in a corridor on the first floor of the palace.
It depicts Jupiter, Pluto and Neptune with the world at the centre, marked by signs of the zodiac.
“It’s certainly one of his earliest (works) and is very interesting because the subject is a mythological subject, and Caravaggio painted almost only sacred works,” art historian Claudio Strinati told AFP.
The palace was originally an outbuilding in the grounds of the Villa Ludovisi, of which nothing remains today. Its name comes from a Guercino fresco depicting the goddess Aurora, or Dawn, on her chariot.