Italian actress and beauty queen Gina Lollobrigida, who died earlier this month, was manipulated into giving part of her multi-million-pound estate to her assistant, according to her only son.
Lollobrigida, who rose to prominence in the 60s as the ‘world’s most beautiful woman’ and appeared in dozens of films, died on January 16 at the age of 95.
According to details of her will published in Italian media, the silver screen star split her assets between her 66-year-old son Milko Skofic Jr, and her 35-year-old assistant Andrea Piazzolla.
In the final years of her life, Lollobrigida took legal action against her son, accusing him of humiliating her and infringing on her ‘legitimate right to grow old without being robbed’.
But Skofic Jr claims his vulnerable 95-year-old mother was defrauded by young assistant Piazzola into signing over her assets to him while cutting contact with her family members and close friends.
Gina Lollobrigida and personal assistant Andrea Piazzolla ‘Domenica’ TV show, Rome, Italy – 20 Jan 2019
Milko Skofic, the actress’s estranged son, has claimed Piazolla took advantage of his elderly mother
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’
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.
Italian screen legend Gina Lollobrigida (pictured in her house in 2008 in Rome) died aged 95 on Monday – and has left behind an estate thought to be worth tens of millions
Andrea Piazzolla, Lollobrigida’s driver-turned-manager, is accused of defrauding her out of hundreds of thousands of pounds including buying a Pagani supercar
Gina Lollobrigida, an actress known in her heyday as the world’s most-beautiful woman (pictured in 1954), has recruited a mafia prosecutor to battle estranged son over her 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.
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.
Antonio Ingroia (right), a former prosecutor from Palermo, has vowed to help Lollobrigida (left) regain control over her estimated £35million fortune
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)
‘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.