Battle for Gina Lollobrigida's fortune takes a new twist
Mystery of Gina Lollobrigida’s missing €9 million: Battle for Italian sex symbol’s fortune takes a new twist as heirs fighting for her estate discover most of her wealth has disappeared
- Actress and beauty queen Gina Lollobrigida died earlier this year aged 95
- Lollobrigida split her assets between her only son and 35-year-old assistant
The bitter battle for Italian actress and beauty queen Gina Lollobrigida’s estate has taken a mysterious turn after it was discovered that nine million euros of her fortune has disappeared.
Lollobrigida, who rose to prominence in the 60s as the ‘world’s most beautiful woman’ and appeared in scores of films, died on January 16 at the age of 95.
In her will, the sex symbol split her assets between her 66-year-old son Milko Skofic Jr and her 35-year-old assistant Andrea Piazzolla who cared for Lollobrigida in her final years.
But a bitter dispute has erupted, with Lollobrigida’s family accusing Piazzolla of manipulating the actress into giving him a share of her estate.
And in the latest twist in the ongoing legal dispute, Italian authorities compiling an inventory of Lollobrigida’s estate said they found that €9 million of assets – the vast majority of the star’s wealth – have disappeared.
Italian actress and beauty queen Gina Lollobrigida, who rose to prominence in the 60s as the ‘world’s most beautiful woman’ and appeared in scores of films, died on January 16 at the age of 95.
In her will, the sex symbol split her assets between her 66-year-old son Milko Skofic Jr, and her 35-year-old assistant Andrea Piazzolla (pictured together in Rome in 2019) who cared for Lollobrigida in her final years
Milko Skofic, the actress’s estranged son, has claimed Piazolla took advantage of his elderly mother
The actress’s assets include a violet ruby cut in a cushion-shaped design worth 1,200 euros (£1,050), marble statues of cherubs, a wooden Buddha statue as well as famous paintings – all of which are in her luxurious villa in Rome.
Her estate, believed to have been worth millions of euros, has now been valued at nearly 500,000 euros (£439,000) as the whereabouts of funds from the sale of expensive assets such as three properties in Rome and an apartment in Monte Carlo remain unknown.
‘We can only speculate as to where the missing assets are being kept,’ Alessandro Gentiloni Silveri, a lawyer for Skofic Jr, the actress’s only son, told The Times. ‘My guess is as good as anyone.’
In the final years of her life, Lollobrigida took legal action against Skofic Jr, accusing him of humiliating her and infringing on her ‘legitimate right to grow old without being robbed’.
But Skofic Jr – together with his son Dimitri Skovic – claims Lollobrigida was defrauded by young assistant Piazzola into signing over her assets to him while cutting contact with her family members and close friends.
A court in Rome will decide on June 7 whether Lollobrigida was sound of mind when she signed her will.
‘Lollobrigida was not lucid enough to sign her will,’ Gentiloni Silveri said. ‘She was extremely weak, and had people feeding her false information in a way they claimed was beneficial to her.’
Piazzolla’s lawyers claim that Lollobrigida was not vulnerable and knew what she was doing when she signed the will.
‘She was lucid and read everything,’ Filippo Morlacchini, Piazzola’s lawyer, said. ‘She always had the last word.’
Lollobrigida (pictured in 1959) described Piazzolla as being ‘like a son’ to her, and says that what she decides to do with her money ‘concerns me and no one else’
Italian screen legend Gina Lollobrigida (pictured in her house in 2008 in Rome) died aged 95 in January
Andrea Piazzolla, Lollobrigida’s driver-turned-manager, is accused of defrauding her out of hundreds of thousands of pounds including buying a Pagani supercar
Skofic told Italian newspaper La Repubblica this week that Piazzolla had ruined the last years of his mother’s life by isolating her from ‘everything she held dear’.
‘For three years, I wasn’t even able to get into her house,’ he said. ‘Her friends kept ringing me to ask why no one answered their phone calls… Nearly all of her closest friends were kept away from her… Everything was in his hands.’
Lollobrigida’s relationship with Piazzolla dates back at least a decade, to when he became her driver aged 24.
He was subsequently promoted to her handyman and then to her manager, before moving to live with her along with his partner.
Speculation has swirled for years about how close the pair had become – with Piazzolla often showing up at awards ceremonies on Lollobrigida’s arm.
Skofic launched legal action against him as early as 2015, when he accused Piazzolla of taking control of firm Vissi D’arte which manages Lollobrigida’s assets and using it to sell three luxury properties as well as buying a Pagani supercar.
Piazzolla was also accused of using bank accounts in his parents’ names to transfer thousands of euros from the film star’s fortune.
The latest legal case related to 350 items of art and antiques worth an estimated £250,000 that Piazzolla is accused of selling without Lollobrigida’s knowledge.
Ahead of the case, Skofic applied to the Italian Supreme Court to have a block put on his mother’s assets to stop any more being given away as gifts.
In October 2021, the court ruled in his favour after hearing that Lollobrigida had a ‘weakened sense of reality’ that meant she was ‘vulnerable’ to exploitation.
Judges ruled that, while she could keep control over her day-to-day expenses, she should be prevented from managing her most valuable assets until the case against Piazzolla is concluded.
Gina Lollobrigida in a publicity portrait for the film ‘Woman Of Rome’ in 1954
Lollobrigida’s assets include various properties across Italy as well as her paintings and jewels (pictured: the property in Rome where Gina’s 95th birthday party was held)
But Lollobrigida in turn hired former Palermo prosecutor Antonio Ingroia, who had built a reputation for contending with the Sicilian mafia.
Speaking to Italian station Rai1 in 2021, Ingroia said: ‘I am her lawyer because she looked for me and felt this need to fight and look for someone who would fight alongside her.
‘For years I have fought the mafia and this same spirit for a battle of freedom I want to do and I am doing alongside Gina Lollobrigida.’
Speaking to Il Sussidiario, he accused Skofic of being interested in his mother’s health only because it concerns her money.
‘The problem that caused all this was not that Ms. Lollobrigida is ill but the annihilation of her assets. The problem is the heritage,’ he said.
And outlining her exact relationship with Piazzolla to Rai1, Lollobrigida said she views him ‘like a son’ and revealed that he has named his daughter Gina after her – describing the little girl as ‘a tiger’.
She has described him as ‘a stroke of luck’ who ‘helped me move forwards’ with her life in recent years after she became estranged from Skofic.
Lollobrigida also previously accused her former toyboy lover, Javier Rigau, of conning her into marriage in an attempt to inherit her money.
She was with the 58-year-old for over 20 years and the couple reportedly planned to get married, but the ceremony never took place after the star called it off.
Lollobrigida pictured left in 1958 and right in 1959
Gina Lollobrigida and ex-husband Javier Rigau Rifols pictured at the 56th Red Cross Ball in 2006. The couple – who had a 34 year age gap – announced their engagement that year
But despite splitting up in 2007, the Spanish businessman managed to marry her by proxy in 2010 without her knowledge by using an impersonator to stand in as Lollobrigida at the service in Barcelona.
She only discovered the marriage in 2013 and Rigau was charged with fraud and forgery.
A film star and sex symbol of the 1960s and 70s, Lollobrigida starred in more than 60 films and is still considered a star of Italian cinema – despite her last movie being two decades ago.
Along with rival Sofia Loren, Lollobrigida was one of a small number of Italian stars who achieved international fame with a career in Hollywood.
She starred in such films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1956, Strange Bedfellows alongside Rock Hudson in 1965 and Good Evening, Ms Campbell in 1968 – acting alongside the likes of Sean Connery, Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra.
Known affectionately by fans and family as ‘La Lollo’, she also starred in Trapeze and Woman of Rome, and now splits her time between a villa in Monte Carlo, a mansion in Rome and another property in Sicily.
After acting Lollobrigida started a career as a photographer and sculptor in the 1980s.
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