Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida’s ‘toyboy’ has been jailed for three years in Italy for embezzling £9million from the beauty queen before she died aged 95 in January.
Andrea Piazzolla, 36, was convicted of “brainwashing” and defrauding Lollobrigida, who rose to fame in the 1960s as “the most beautiful woman in the world” and appeared in dozens of films opposite Sean Connery and Tony Curtis, among others.
Piazzolla, described by Italian media as a ‘toy boy’, defrauded Lollobrigida of £9 million worth of property, cash, cars and jewelery between 2013 and 2018 while working as her assistant, a court in Rome heard.
The 36-year-old cared for Lollobrigida in her final years and even moved in with the actress at her villa in Rome, where he reportedly bought hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of sports cars with the actress’ money before selling them.
He was found guilty on Monday of taking advantage of Lollobrigida’s age and vulnerability to cheat her out of the vast majority of her estate.
Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida’s ‘toyboy’ has been jailed for three years in Italy for embezzling £9million from the beauty queen before she died aged 95 in January. Pictured: Gina Lollobrigida in the film Solomon and Sheba in 1959
Andrea Piazzolla, 36, was convicted of ‘brainwashing’ and defrauding Lollobrigida (pictured together in Rome in 2019), who rose to fame in the 1960s as ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’ and appeared in numerous films opposite Sean Connery, among others and Tony Curtis
Milko Skofic, the actress’s estranged son, alleged that Piazolla took advantage of his elderly mother
In Lollobrigida’s will, the sex symbol divided her assets between her son Milko Skofic Jr and Piazzolla, prompting her family to accuse the assistant of manipulating the actress into giving him a share of her estate.
That long-running legal dispute took a new twist in May when Italian authorities, conducting an inventory of Lollobrigida’s estate, discovered that £9 million (€10 million) of assets – the vast majority of the star’s wealth – have disappeared .
Now Piazzolla, who started working for Lollobrigida in 2009 at the age of 21, has been convicted of embezzling those £9million from the actress and ordered to immediately hand over more than £500,000 to Skofic.
The Italian won the actress’s trust, moved to Rome and was often seen by her side at glamorous events.
Piazzolla was accused of buying a Ferrari with Lollobrigida’s money before selling it and handing the money to his own parents. He was also accused of fraudulently buying an F-Type Jaguar, which he allegedly sold for €130,000 in 2018 before pocketing the proceeds.
The 36-year-old was also accused of using the actress’ money to buy two apartments near Rome’s Spanish Steps and selling them for €2 million.
When the trial for Lollobrigida’s death began, the actress had insisted that Piazzola had not stolen from her. She told the court at the time: ‘He stands by my side like a son and helps me to carry on.’
Lollobrigida claimed that her son Skovic “disappeared from my life for years and came back, not to give me loving support, but to take my wealth away.”
But an expert told the court in Rome that Lollobrigida had been influenced by Piazzolla while she was in a “vulnerable” state and therefore could not be trusted with her finances.
Prosecutors said Piazzolla had kept the actress in “isolation” and in a “state of vulnerability.”
But the aide, who has vowed to appeal his sentence, said after the verdict: “I believe I was the only one who lovingly cared for Gina Lollobrigida.”
Italian film legend Gina Lollobrigida (pictured at her home in Rome in 2008) died in January at the age of 95
Andrea Piazzolla and Gina Lollobrigida attend Celebrity Fight Night at Arena di Verona on September 8, 2018 in Verona, Italy
Lollobrigida driver turned manager Andrea Piazzolla was convicted of defrauding her of hundreds of thousands of pounds, including the purchase of a Pagani supercar
Gina Lollobrigida in a publicity portrait for the film ‘Woman Of Rome’ in 1954
Lollobrigida’s assets include several properties throughout Italy, as well as her paintings and jewelry (photo: the property in Rome where Gina’s 95th birthday party was held)
Piazzolla’s lawyers had argued that Lollobrigida was not vulnerable and knew what she was doing when she signed the will and transferred assets to the assistant.
Meanwhile, Skofic told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica in May that Piazzolla had ruined the last years of his mother’s life by isolating her from “everything she held dear.”
“For three years I couldn’t even get into her house,” he said. “Her friends kept calling me to ask why no one was answering their calls… Almost all of her closest friends were kept away from her… Everything was in his hands.”
Skofic initiated legal action against Piazzolla back in 2015, when he accused him of taking control of the Vissi D’arte company, which manages Lollobrigida’s assets, and using it to sell three luxury properties and a Pagani supercar to buy.
The latest lawsuit involved 350 pieces of art and antiques worth an estimated £250,000, which Piazzolla is accused of selling without Lollobrigida’s knowledge.
Lollobrigida’s relationship with Piazzolla goes back at least a decade, when he became her driver at the age of 24.
He was then promoted to her handyman and then her manager, before moving in with his partner.
There has been speculation for years about how close the pair had become – with Piazzolla often turning up at awards ceremonies on Lollobrigida’s arm.
Lollobrigida had described Piazzolla as a ‘son’ and revealed he named his daughter Gina after her – describing the little girl as ‘a tiger’.
She described him as “a stroke of luck” who “helped me move forward” with her life in recent years after becoming estranged from Skofic.
Lollobrigida previously accused her former toyboy lover, Javier Rigau, of forcing her into marriage in a bid to inherit her money.
She had been with the 58-year-old for more than 20 years and the couple reportedly planned to get married, but the ceremony never took place after the star called it off.
Lollobrigida shown on the left in 1958 and on the 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 difference – announced their engagement that year
But despite the divorce in 2007, the Spanish businessman managed to marry her by proxy without her knowledge in 2010 by using an impersonator as Lollobrigida at the Barcelona service.
She only discovered the marriage in 2013 and Rigau was charged with fraud and forgery.
A movie star and sex symbol of the 1960s and 1970s, Lollobrigida appeared in more than sixty films and is still considered a star of Italian cinema – despite her last film being twenty years ago.
Together with rival Sofia Loren, Lollobrigida was one of the few Italian stars to achieve international fame with a career in Hollywood.
She starred in films such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1956, Strange Bedfellows alongside Rock Hudson in 1965 and Good Evening, Ms Campbell in 1968 – alongside Sean Connery, Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra.
Affectionately known to fans and family as ‘La Lollo’, she also starred in Trapeze and Woman of Rome, and now divides her time between a villa in Monte Carlo, a country house in Rome and another property in Sicily.
After acting, Lollobrigida began a career as a photographer and sculptor in the 1980s.