This rare Caravaggio is up for grabs, complete with a Roman villa

Italian home with famous mural to auction at $546M

National Weekend Edition /
Oct.October 30, 2021 10:30 AM
This rare Caravaggio is up for grabs, complete with a Roman villa

Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi with Caravaggio’s Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto (TripAdvisor, Wikipedia)

It isn’t the Sistine Chapel, but one ceiling mural in Italy is threatening to upend historical housing records.

Villa Aurora in Rome has hit the market at $546 million. Artnet reports the high price tag on the home is largely owed to the built-in Caravaggio mural, the only ceiling painting ever created by the artist.

The painting created near the end of the 16th Century shows Roman gods Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto posing with their associated animals — an eagle, a mythological hippocampus and a three-headed dog. Artnet reports the gods’ faces are believed to be based on the artist’s own mug.

The ceiling mural was reportedly covered at one point, but rediscovered in 1968.

Alessandro Zuccari, a history professor based in Rome who was hired to appraise the artwork, settled on a $360 million valuation. Due to Italian cultural heritage laws, the painting will reportedly need about $12.75 million worth of restoration.

The home’s main draw is the art. Beside the Caravaggio piece, the former hunting lodge also has works from Domenichino, Tassi, and Valesio, as well as ceiling fresco from Guercino.

The lodge was part of an 89-acre retreat belonging to the Ludovisi family. Most of it was sold back to the city centuries ago and the villa is the only building left standing from the original retreat, hosting private tours for the last decade.

The first chance to buy the 9,000-square-foot property belongs to the Italian government, which holds the right of first refusal. A court auction for the property is scheduled to be held on January 18, La Repubblica reported.

Even if the bidding hits the listed price for the villa, it wouldn’t be the biggest residential sale in history. That mark is believed to belong to Hong Kong’s Ho Tung Gardens, which sold in 2016 for $657.8 million.

[Artnet News] — Holden Walter-Warner





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