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ROME – Gina Lollobrigida, the 1950s and 1960s sex symbol who was once referred to as the most beautiful woman in the world, is threatening legal action against a former boyfriend decades younger than her on claims he married her by proxy in order to claim part of her estate.
Lollobrigida, 85, confirmed Tuesday that she filed a formal complaint in Rome on Sunday against former beau, Javier Rigau y Rafols, a Spanish citizen. Rigau is reported to be between 44 and 51 years old, depending on the news source.
In a bizarre case that would not be out of place in the 1950s comedies she starred in, Lollobrigida alleges Rigau married an imposter who claimed to be her in a civil marriage ceremony in Barcelona held in 2010. A marriage certificate would likely make Rigau Lollobrigida’s prime heir.
“This vile and dishonest person married me by proxy, without my knowledge, without my permission, in order to inherit my estate after my death,” Lollobrigida said. “There will be an international investigation into everything because I want to shed light on this squalid affair and all the people involved.”
According to Lollobrigida, Rigau had previously obtained a power of attorney in order to help her clear up some legal problems. She said she believes that allowed him to carry out the bogus marriage ceremony. Lollobrigida said she discovered the fake marriage only after coming across a document online that showed she was married to Rigau.
“I found a document in which it seems that in November 2010 he became my husband, before eight witnesses,” she said. “I fear he took advantage of the fact that I don’t understand Spanish. Who knows what it is he had me sign?”
The relationship between Lollobrigida and Rigau lasted more than 20 years after they met at a 1980s party in Monte Carlo. She said she considered marrying him in 2006, but she changed her mind, believing it would be a mistake.
Lollobrigida was part of a trio of Italian divas from the 1950s and 1960s, along with Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale. She earned her nickname as the world’s most beautiful woman after starring in Lina Cavalieri’s La donna piu bella del mondo (Beautiful But Dangerous), with Vittorio Gassman. The film’s Italian title translates to “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman.”
Lollobrigida at first resisted calls from Howard Hughes to come to Hollywood, but she eventually relented. By the time she stopped acting 15 years ago, she had appeared in more than 70 films, in both the U.S. and Italy, opposite such leading men as Humphrey Bogart, Tony Curtis, Yul Brynner, Burt Lancaster, and Anthony Quinn. She won six David di Donatello prizes in Italy — three of them honorary — and was nominated for a Golden Globe award twice: once for her work in Melvin Frank’s comedy Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell from 1968, and once for the television series Falcon Crest, in 1985.
Other film credits include King Vidor’s historical romance Solomon and Sheba, from 1959, John Huston’s 1953 adventure comedy Beat the Devil, and 1956’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, directed by Jean Delannoy.
After retiring from acting Lollobrigida became an accomplished photographer and sculptor and became active in humanitarian causes.
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