What could be the most expensive house in the world is about to be auctioned for more than half a billion dollars. But that’s not exactly for the house itself as it is for the rare paintings inside the house, including the only ceiling fresco ever painted by the famous Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
Known as Villa Aurora in Rome, it is the last extant building of a 16th-century country retreat built by Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte and spans over 30,000 square feet, according to the list managed by the Italian government.
If the villa sells for what it asks for, it would be considered the “most expensive house in the world” ever sold.
The date of the auction has been set for January 18, 2022.
So far, that title belongs to a 51,000 square foot residence in Hong Kong that sold for the equivalent of $ 361 million in 2017.
The Caravaggio mural, painted around 1597 or 1598, is an oil painting on plaster that spans 10 feet long and 6 feet wide. The painting represents the gods Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto. Jupiter rides an eagle, while Neptune rides a seahorse. A naked Pluto and a celestial sphere complete the picture.
While most of the paintings, including the murals, have been preserved over the centuries, the rest of the villa remains in a somewhat derelict condition and is in need of extensive renovations.
In 1968, the peeling paint revealed a face on the ceiling that closely resembled the artist. It had apparently been repainted during a past renovation of the house, according to the New York Times. When it was discovered, they not only found the mural, but also discovered that Caravaggio had been used as a model for the faces of the three gods.
The villa consists of nine other ceilings painted by prominent 16th-century artists, including a mural by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, also known as Guercino. Its fresco, titled “Aurora”, is the name of the villa.
“Having a Guercino ceiling and Caravaggio’s only ceiling makes it the most special residence of its kind in Italy,” said Count Stefano Aluffi-Pentini, whose company, A Private View of Italy, organizes tours of exclusive art in Rome, New York Times.
The house’s artwork is estimated to have an estimated ‘curatorial’ value of 670 million euros in 2010. The art also includes statues dating back to 500 BC.
The sale of the property comes after a vast inheritance dispute following the death in 2018 of its owner, Prince NicolÃ² Boncompagni Ludovisi.
Once an offer is accepted at auction, the state will have the option of purchasing the estate at the same price as it is protected by the Ministry of Culture. But it is not known if the government will be able to pay for the house.
It is estimated that an additional $ 12.75 million is needed to restore the house to its original glory.
If the sale goes through, it would also exceed the asking price of $ 363 million for a Los Angeles estate, previously dubbed the highest ever on the market.