Rome’s Villa Aurora – The Most Expensive House in the World

Located on a hill in the heart of Rome and featuring the only ceiling mural ever painted by the Italian Baroque old master Caravaggio, Villa Aurora is widely regarded as the world’s most expensive house.

The 30,000-square-foot, 16th-century villa is located a short walk from the famous Via Veneto, home to some of Rome’s best hotels, and close to the iconic Piazza di Spagna and the ancient Porta Pinciana. Originally a hunting lodge, the villa is all that remains of a 30-hectare complex owned by Italy’s Ludovisi noble family, who gave the country numerous diplomats, patrons of the arts, and even a Pope. Today, Villa Aurora finds itself at the heart of a legal battle and an Italian court has ruled that it should be sold at auction. Only the price set for the property is so high that no one seems interested in paying it.

Photo: Google

“You have to have a billionaire; a millionaire is not enough for this,” Princess Rita Boncompagni-Ludovisi, the villa’s current occupant, told NPR. “It needs someone with deep pockets, who doesn’t care if you have to spend 10 thousand on a water leak or something.”

72-year-old Princess Rita Boncompagni-Ludovisi is the third wife of Prince Nicolo Ludovisi Boncompagni. Now she and three sons from the prince’s first marriage are engaged in a legal battle with the precious Villa Aurora at its center. Since the parties could not come to an understanding, an auction was decided, with the proceeds to be split between them. But auctioning off the world’s most expensive house is no easy feat.


Back in January, when the first auction was held, the estimated price for Villa Aurora was €471 million (at the time $539 million). And, despite its historical and artistic value, no one was really surprised that the property didn’t have a buyer.

“I would have been amazed if a buyer had come forward. The price is too high,” Alessandro Zuccari, a professor at Sapienza University in Rome who helped with the valuation, told The Guardian. “Let’s see what happens in April, but I doubt anyone will come forward then — what would someone like Bill Gates do with Villa Aurora, especially with all the extra costs?”


A pristine location in the heart of Italy’s capital, and an unrivaled history tied to some of the greatest thinkers and artists in Europe are not enough to give Villa Aurora the title of ‘world’s most expensive house’. That can be attributed to the artistic treasures it houses, particularly the ceiling mural painted by Carravaggio, itself estimated to have a value of €310 million. It was reportedly painted in 1597 and only discovered sometime in the 1960s.

In April, Villa Aurora went under the hammer once again, this time with a roughly 20% discount from the original €471 million asking price, but no one seemed eager to bid on it. Now, Princess Rita Boncompagni-Ludovisi has asked some of the world’s top real estate agencies to find a buyer for the home, but that is proving a tall order.


Princess Boncompagni-Ludovisi has asked the Italian Government to purchase the villa and preserve it, and her wish was shared by the nearly 40,000 signatories of a petition, but despite the discounted price, Villa Aurora would most likely pulverize the budget of Italy’s Ministry of Culture.

For the time being, Villa Aurora remains on the market and retains the title of ‘world’s most expensive house’.