A Texas-born Italian princess faces eviction from a Roman villa that has the world’s only known mural painted by Renaissance artist Caravaggio, amid a bitter legacy battle over the future of this unique property.

Princess Rita Jenrette Boncompagni Ludovisi, 73, whose extraordinary life has encompassed acting, modeling for Playboy, becoming a New York real estate agent and marrying a US congressman and an Italian prince, has received notice of expulsion by a court in the Italian capital. .

She intervened after the collapse of a wall of her residence, the Casino dell’Aurora, causing the closure of a nearby street.

She told Reuters news agency she was ‘stunned’ to learn she had 60 days to vacate the property, which she insists needs upkeep, but will would appeal the decision.

A mural by Caravaggio inside the villa. Photo: AP

The princess, born Rita Carpenter in San Antonio in 1949, is locked in a feud with the children of her late husband, Prince Nicolo Boncompagni Ludovisi.

The couple married in 2009 and there have been lengthy legal proceedings between her and her three stepsons since her death in 2018.

A court has ordered the property to be auctioned publicly in January 2022, with a minimum bid price of €350m (£310m), which would have made it one of the most valuable homes in the world.

But there were no bids at that price, nor in subsequent auctions with lower minimums.

The Casino dell'Aurora, also known as Villa Ludovisi, has been put up for auction.  Photo: AP
The Casino dell’Aurora, also known as Villa Ludovisi, has been put up for auction. Photo: AP

The villa’s 2.75m-wide ceiling mural, commissioned from Caravaggio in 1597, was valued at €310m (£274m) and depicts the gods Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto.

The princess had recently offered paid tours of the property to help pay for its upkeep, but these were in breach of the court order to auction it off.

She claims her husband left her half of his estate, but her son, Prince Bante, claims she did not have his father’s best interests at heart.

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