Film Producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori Accuses His Actress Ex-Wife of Stealing a $1 Million Basquiat

The painting disappeared from their Rome residence following their divorce in 2000.

jean-michel-basquiat-wine-of-babylon
Jean-Michel Basquiat Wine of Babylon (1984) Photo: Wikiart

Italian film producer and former politician Vittorio Cecchi Gori is accusing his ex-wife, the Croatian actress and singer Rita Rusic, of stealing a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting from their home, Courthouse News reports.

Cecchi Gori bought Wine of Babylon (1984) in 1988 for $330,000 from Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York. He assigned the painting to the company G&G Productions, but kept the artwork in the private residence he shared with Rusic in Rome, Italy.

According to the complaint filed by G&G Productions, the painting disappeared from the Rome residence following their divorce in 2000.

Rusic, who started her career in show business as a model in the late 1970s, has denied stealing the artwork and claims to have no knowledge of the painting’s whereabouts.

In its lawsuit, G&G Productions accuses Rusic of conversion and civil theft, replevin, and unjust enrichment. The complaint alleges she stole the work “intentionally and for her own financial gain.” The company also claims the painting is now worth at least $1 million.

Vittorio Cecchi Gori comes from a family of film producers. His father is the late Mario Cecchi Gori, who had a long and successful career in the Italian film industry. He produced over 200 films, including Mediterraneo, which won an Academy Award in 1992 for Best Foreign Language Film.

Vittorio also has a solid production record: he has produced several high-profile films, including Il Postino (1994), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and Life Is Beautiful (1997), which won an Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Actor in 1999. From 1994 to 2001, he was also a senator from the Italian People’s Party.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, in 2013 Cecchi Gori was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay $15.6 million in damages in connection with the bankruptcy of his production company Safin Cinematografica.


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