All that on-screen melodrama never held a candle to the private life of ‘La Lolla’, as her adoring nation calls her. Glamorous men are still chasing her, it is alleged: not for love or lust but sheer greed
Dripping in jewels and immaculately clothed in shimmering haute couture, she still cuts a dash at parties and functions, reminding Italy’s paparazzi of her place at the top of the country’s celebrity pile.
She celebrated entering her 10th decade by throwing a gigantic party in Rome.
And she still has problems with the attentions of handsome young men.
Nobody does their 90s quite like Gina Lollobrigida.
The fiery Italian screen siren scarcely looks 92 — but perhaps that’s what comes of having been dubbed the ‘Mona Lisa of the 20th century’, an actress whose reputation as the world’s most beautiful woman lasted through the Fifties and well into the Sixties.
Possessed of an unfeasibly voluptuous, hourglass figure — 36-22-35 — and an equally perfect pout, she was destined for sex goddess status, even if she insists she always played ‘character roles’.
Humphrey Bogart, her first co-star in Beat The Devil, said she made Marilyn Monroe look like the child star Shirley Temple.
They say her ex-manager, the handsome Andrea Piazzolla — who, at 32, is six decades younger than the film star — has craftily seized control of both her affections and finances. They are pictured together on January 20th 2019
She also starred alongside Frank Sinatra, Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster, Sean Connery and Yul Brynner, stretching her low-cut outfits, if not her acting skills, to breaking point as the smouldering love interest.
Meanwhile, she was pursued across continents by some of the world’s richest and most famous men, including Prince Rainier of Monaco and the film mogul Howard Hughes.
All that on-screen melodrama never held a candle to the private life of ‘La Lolla’, as her adoring nation calls her.
Glamorous men are still chasing her, it is alleged: not for love or lust but sheer greed.
The latest dramatic turn in La Lolla’s colourful private life comes courtesy of her family, who have persuaded prosecutors in Rome that she has been defrauded of millions of euros by the young man to whom — until recently — she had entrusted management of her fortune.
Dripping in jewels and immaculately clothed in shimmering haute couture, she still cuts a dash at parties and functions, reminding Italy’s paparazzi of her place at the top of the country’s celebrity pile
They say her ex-manager, the handsome Andrea Piazzolla — who, at 32, is six decades younger than the film star — has craftily seized control of both her affections and finances.
La Lolla’s 61-year-old son, Milko Skofic Jr — the sole heir to her fortune by her marriage to a Slovenian doctor — has been joined in these accusations by Lollobrigida’s estranged toyboy husband, Spanish businessman Javier Rigau y Rafols.
Ironically, only four years ago, Mr Rigau was himself accused by Lollobrigida of trying to get his hands on her money by tricking her into marrying him.
The woman who once had men falling at her feet was now the vulnerable one.
Mr Piazzolla is alleged to have used the money to buy or lease 15 expensive cars and motorcycles worth more than £1 million, including a £270,000 Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a £58,000 Ducati bike that he decorated with a tacky picture of him as James Bond and Lollobrigida as a Bond girl. Mr Piazzolla is pictured above on Instagram with a car
Lollobrigida has conceded her son fears she will leave everything to Mr Piazzolla, whom she’s described as ‘the best person I have ever found in my life until now’. She’s also admitted that ‘I have always had a weakness for younger men’.
Backed by Lollobrigida, Mr Piazzolla has protested his innocence, but prosecutors in Rome agree with his accusers and, this week, asked a judge that he be charged with ‘attempting to profit by exploiting an incapable person and causing them harm’ — punishable by up to six years in prison.
Mr Piazzolla said in a statement last night: ‘Our time is limited and to be fulfilled in life we can’t waste time listening to the frustrations of others.’
‘Luckily Gina is well and those who know her know it. The rest is secondary. I have great faith in the legal system and my lawyer Filippo Morlacchini.’
According to the prosecutors’ report, seen by the Mail, Mr Piazzolla met Lollobrigida in 2009 and swiftly became close to the star and her grandson, Dimitri.
‘From the beginning,’ say prosecutors, Mr Piazzolla ‘was scrupulous about satisfying her every need: he became her driver, man about the house; never missing a chance to compliment her artistic work or physical appearance, winning her total confidence’.
When asked in 2014 if they were romantically involved, Lollobrigida laughed and said: ‘There are many years’ difference between us!’
Lollobrigida’s family claim that the ‘turning point of his criminal plan’ was when Mr Piazzolla joined her on a month-long trip to the U.S. in 2011 and ‘took over her life, distancing loved ones’.
Her grandson says he and his mother were suddenly turfed out of the house in the grounds of Lollobrigida’s stately pink villa on the ancient Appian Way in Rome, where they’d lived since 1994. She put locks on the gates and, Dimitri claims, he didn’t hear from her for years — even on his 18th birthday.
‘When I rang her, she said she had to go as the pasta would over-cook,’ he told prosecutors.
Meanwhile, Dimitri alleges Mr Piazzolla poisoned his grandmother against him by using Facebook pictures to convince her that he made porn films, used drugs and painted graffiti.
It’s claimed in legal papers that over the past few years, Piazzolla has been gaining control of the star’s assets, arranging for them to be transferred to a Monaco company of which he is sole director.
Mr Piazzolla is alleged to have used the money to buy or lease 15 expensive cars and motorcycles worth more than £1 million, including a £270,000 Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a £58,000 Ducati bike that he decorated with a tacky picture of him as James Bond and Lollobrigida as a Bond girl.
Lollobrigida’s family say her own spending habits are ‘parsimonious’ and she has no interest in cars.
Gina is pictured with Frank Sinatra in the film Never So Few (1959). ‘I was never lucky with men,’ Lollobrigida said a few years ago, blaming the fact that men can’t cope with successful women
In 2013, she sold her beloved collection of Bulgari jewels at Sotheby’s for £3.9 million. The proceeds allegedly went not to stem cell research, as Lollobrigida claimed, but into a Swiss bank to which Mr Piazzolla has access.
In 2015, say prosecutors, he sold three flats she owned near Rome’s Piazza Spagna for more than £2 million and the money’s whereabouts is unknown.
The following year, he allegedly holidayed in Sardinia, renting yachts, private planes and presidential suites — while spending nearly £12,000 on a 24-hour armed guard to prevent family and friends visiting Lollobrigida in Rome.
Mr Piazzolla has previously pleaded his innocence. ‘It is obvious that Signora Lollobrigida is in no way vulnerable and the opposite is possibly true,’ he said in March when prosecutors wrapped up their investigation.
He lives at Lollobrigida’s villa, and she has scoffed at suggestions that she’s either mentally incapable or being robbed blind by him.
The self-professed ‘tough woman’ has said: ‘Andrea has no control over me. He’s young but intelligent, and knows how to defend me from my enemies.’
The fiery Italian screen siren scarcely looks 92 — but perhaps that’s what comes of having been dubbed the ‘Mona Lisa of the 20th century’, an actress whose reputation as the world’s most beautiful woman lasted through the Fifties and well into the Sixties
When it was revealed that he had bought a Ferrari F12 with £277,000 of her cash and then sold it, giving the money to his parents, Lollobrigida said he had only bought the sports car to encourage her to drive again after she crashed her Rolls-Royce.
She has insisted she has no interest in money anyway and has never counted her fortune.
If she did, according to her son’s lawyer, she would discover it is now rather less than the £16 million at which it was recently valued.
Indeed, according to the same lawyer, La Lolla’s Appian Way villa is one of her few remaining assets. She has also owned a villa in Monte Carlo and a farm in Sicily.
Other men in Mr Piazzolla’s position have insisted they are only trying to bring a little happiness to the twilight years of a lady who is used to special treatment.
Last Christmas, he had her garden filled with fake snow and arranged a visit for her from Santa. She looked delighted.
If it sounds like a somewhat odd relationship — it certainly wouldn’t be her first.
Javier Rigau, one of the men now trying to bring down her dear Andrea, was her toyboy boyfriend for 22 years.
Mr Rigau, a Barcelona businessman, who is 34 years younger, met her at a party in Monte Carlo in 1984. ‘I was 23 and she was 57, which I would say is the perfect age between a man and a woman,’ he has said.
They were engaged but, she says, she got cold feet and dumped him, later claiming he tricked her into marriage.
In 2015, she told an Italian court she was hoodwinked into signing documents that permitted Mr Rigau to marry her in a ceremony in 2010 in Barcelona — without her being here. Instead, she was represented by a 72-year-old female friend of Rigau’s.
La Lolla claimed she had no idea about this ‘proxy wedding’ — a perfectly legal arrangement under Spanish law, in which the vows can be spoken by someone else if either the bride or groom cannot be present — until she read about it by chance on the internet.
How did he manage it? By asking her to sign a document about a defamation case but then mixing up the papers, so — unable to understand Spanish — she inadvertently approved the proxy marriage, she claimed.
Mr Rigau countered she had agreed to having a stand-in bride to avoid publicity, and that he was able to arrange it because she had given him power of attorney to handle another legal matter. The court found in his favour. This must have been a heavy blow to a diva who is used to winning her battles against besotted men.
Possessed of an unfeasibly voluptuous, hourglass figure — 36-22-35 — and an equally perfect pout, she was destined for sex goddess status, even if she insists she always played ‘character roles’
The daughter of a furniture maker from the small town of Subiaco near Rome, where she travelled around by donkey, Lollobrigida was plucked from rural poverty when she came third in the 1947 Miss Italy contest.
She was signed up by an Italian movie company and, in her first film, she played a wild mountain girl who resists the advances of a police chief.
The fabulously wealthy Hollywood mogul Howard Hughes flew her to California for screen tests after seeing publicity shots of her in a bikini.
She says she resisted his wildly generous overtures (and his amorous advances) and returned to make films in Europe before finally embracing Tinseltown in the mid-Fifties.
She hasn’t appeared in a film since 1997, dabbling in photography, then politics — standing unsuccessfully for the European Parliament in 1999 — and finally sculpture. She creates colossal sculptures, often of herself in her glamorous heyday.
She admits she has had myriad affairs, once remarking: ‘I’ve had many lovers and still have romances. I am very spoiled. All my life, I’ve had too many admirers.’
‘I was never lucky with men,’ Lollobrigida said a few years ago, blaming the fact that men can’t cope with successful women.
‘I’ve been in love many times, but I found the right man perhaps four, five times in my life. But they were always jealous of me . . . so they all disappeared. I will never forget this cruelty.’
Even so, there must be a part of her that is secretly delighted that, even now, she’s still making headlines about the men in her life.