Is An Ancient Egyptian Curse Killing The Sale Of A 30-Million-Euro Italian Villa?

Villa Altachiara is among the most luxurious residences on the Italian Riviera. After the mysterious death of the last owner, it has become impossible to find a buyer. Superstitious locals blame a curse dating back to ancient Egypt's King Tutankh

Such views are priceless (luxuo)
Such views are priceless (luxuo)

PORTOFINO - Perched on a cliff along the Italian Riviera, the Villa Altachiara is one of the Mediterranean's most luxurious, picturesque – and pricey -- estates.

But beyond its 1000 square meters, 40 rooms and breathtaking views of the sea, some say that this 19th century mansion comes with another feature: a curse, punctuated by the mysterious death of its last resident, the Countess Francesca Vacca Agusta, who fell into the sea on a stormy night in 2001

Add all this up, and an estimated value of 33.7 million euros, and the Villa Altachiara has become a tricky selling proposition for even the sharpest of Italian real estate agents.

After years of going unsold, the asking price will by knocked down by one-fifth for a planned auction set to open in May. The upcoming sale comes after the foreclosure in 2007 of Dmc, a holding company established by the current owners of the property, Maurizio Raggio and Tirso Chazaro, a pair of former companions of countess Agusta.

The villa's history dates back to the late 1800s when it was built by George Edward Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, the English aristocrat who would go on to discover the tomb of Tutankhamun, shortly before dying in 1923. A young female relative of Lord Carnavon would later slip on a steep cliff-side ladder and fall to her death.

Indeed, the superstitious say the curse was placed on the mansion by the Egyptian tomb discoveries of its first owner.

Since Agusta's death, exactly 13 potential buyers opened negotiations to buy the Villa Altachiara, but no deal was ever reached. Current co-owner Raggio denies rumors that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich might be interested.

"The Russians are rich," he said. "But not rich enough."

Read more from La Stampa in Italian

photo - luxuo

*NEWSBITES are digest items, not direct translations

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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