A socialite princess has been warned by a court she could be fined “millions” for contempt of court after refusing to reveal the whereabouts of a $65 million Gauguin painting.
The extravagantly named Principessa Camilla di Borbone delle Due Sicilie insisted, however, in a Jersey courtroom that her mother is responsible for the painting and she has no idea where Paul Gauguin’s Taihitian-inspired masterpiece, "Hina Maruru," the Daily Telegraph and other outlets report.
Princess Camilla (who became a principessa following her marriage to Bourbon heir Prince Carlo, who has a disputed claim to the defunct European title) and her sister Cristiana are locked in a bitter dispute over a trust set up for them by their mother, Italian film star Edoarda Crociani. Crociani, 80, appeared under the stage name Edy Vessel during the 1950s and ’60s. Her filmography includes Federico Fellini’s classic 8½.
Edoarda was the widow of Italian industrialist, Camillo Crociani, who died in 1980, having amassed a huge collection of fine art including the Gaugin.
However Edoarda and Camilla became estranged from Cristiana, and in 2010, $130 million of investments and art was reportedly transferred into Edoarda’s name.
Cristiana feared she was being blocked from inheriting the family’s wealth. In the course of legal proceedings begun in 2011, Cristiana described her upbringing as a “golden hell” and said she had been ostracized by her mother, who was obsessed with her children marrying into royalty.
In 2017, Edoarda was ordered to rebuild the fund, a large part of which was constituted by the 1893 Gauguin, which is reportedly insured for $65 million.
Princess Camilla, who lives in Monaco, Paris, and Rome, and says on her website that she is “very active in promoting the cultural, artistic, historical, and spiritual identity of southern Italy,” has refused to comply with an order to disclose the location of the painting and has now been warned she faces a fine of “millions” for contempt of court.
However, the princess’s legal team countered that the painting is not hers and she does not know the location of many of her mother’s assets.
The Times reports however that Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith poured cold water on her claim of ignorance, telling the court, “The court believed that she knows where the Gauguin is. The way to purge the contempt is to tell us. And she has not done that.”
Princess Camilla married Prince Carlo, who claims to be the head of the Italian House of Bourbon of the Two Sicilies in a ceremony in 1998 described at the time as the “blue-blood wedding of the decade.” The clan, which descends from the Capetian Dynasty, ruled over Southern Italy and Sicily during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Gauguin died in 1903 at the age of 55, penniless and unrecognized, of suspected syphilis.