Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, 94, goes to war with son over her fortune

Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida has hired a mafia-busting lawyer as she fights her own son for control over her £35million fortune. 

The 94-year-old, known in her heyday as the world’s most-beautiful woman, has recruited former Palermo prosecutor Antonio Ingroia as she gears up for the next stage in a long-running legal battle with estranged son Milko Skofic.

Skofic accuses his mother’s 34-year-old assistant Andrea Piazzolla of defrauding her, and last month obtained a court ruling that means she can only use her money for day-to-day expenses until legal cases against Piazzolla are resolved.

In a tearful interview on Italian TV that aired Sunday, Lollobrigida said she is being ‘humiliated’, demanded ‘my legitimate right to grow old without being robbed’ and said the court should ‘let me grow old and die in peace’.

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

Gina Lollobrigida

Gina Lollobrigida

Lollobrigida (pictured left in 1958 and right in 1959) says she has been ‘humiliated’ by an October court ruling that means she no longer has control over her estate

The 94-year-old gave a tearful interview on Italian TV on Sunday (pictured), in which she said she should be allowed 'to live and die in peace'

The 94-year-old gave a tearful interview on Italian TV on Sunday (pictured), in which she said she should be allowed ‘to live and die in peace’

‘I don’t deserve this,’ she told Italian TV channel Rai1. ‘I haven’t done anything wrong, yet [my family] are furious against me and won’t leave me alone.

‘At my age I should have some peace, but I don’t have it yet. I have the right to live and also to die in peace.’

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. 

The case against him dates back to at least 2015, when he is accused 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 Ferrari sports car.

Piazzolla was also accused of using bank accounts in his parents’ names to transfer thousands of euros from the film star’s 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 early October, the court ruled in his favour after hearing that Lollobrigida had a ‘weakened sense of reality’ that meant she was ‘vulnerable’ to exploitation.

Antonio Ingroia (right), a former prosecutor from Palermo, has vowed to help Lollobrigida (left) regain control over her estimated £35million fortune

Antonio Ingroia (right), a former prosecutor from Palermo, has vowed to help Lollobrigida (left) regain control over her estimated £35million fortune

Andrea Piazzolla, Lollobrigida's driver-turned-manager, is accused of defrauding her out of hundreds of thousands of pounds including buying a Ferrari sports car

Andrea Piazzolla, Lollobrigida’s driver-turned-manager, is accused of defrauding her out of hundreds of thousands of pounds including buying a Ferrari sports car

Piazzolla is close with the Italian actress, and has attended awards ceremonies on her arm - sparking speculation about the nature of their relationship

Piazzolla is close with the Italian actress, and has attended awards ceremonies on her arm – sparking speculation about the nature of their relationship

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.

Following that ruling, she recruited Ingroia who had starred in a Netflix series in which he spoke about recovering the assets of anti-mafia journalist Pino Maniaci after he was accused of extortion. He was eventually acquitted. 

Speaking to Rai1 on Sunday, Mr 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. 

‘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.

And as for him attending awards ceremonies, she said Piazzolla accompanies her because he is able to speak English and acts as a translator.

Slamming the latest legal case, she added: ‘Life is mine and I get to decide what to do with it. 

Gina with son Milko Skofic

Gina with son Milko Skofic

Milko Skofic, the actress’s estranged son (left in 1970and right in 2010), is fighting the case against Piazzolla – claiming he is taking advantage of the ageing actress

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'

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’ 

‘Giving gifts to Andrea and his family is something that concerns me and no one else.’

Skofic, in a statement published after the TV interview, rejected claims that he had taken legal action against his mother – saying he acted to protect her.

A letter drafted by his lawyer said: ‘Moved by unchanged affection and lively concern for the shameful annihilation of his [mother’s] assets for the benefit of Mr. Piazzolla and his circle, they turned to the competent authority to ascertain the facts and take the appropriate measures.’

This is not the first time that a man close to Lollobrigida has been accused of trying to steal her fortune.

Three years ago Lollobrigida accused her former toyboy lover, Javier Rigau y Rafols, 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.

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.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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