DNA backs princess’s claim for share of Waugh character’s fortune

World

DNA backs princess’s claim for share of Waugh character’s fortune

Italian Dialta Orlandi is about to get the art collector's £800m estate, his art and a sumptuous villa

Thomas Hornall and Nick Allen

She is the Italian princess who for 25 years has fought to receive a share of one of the world’s most treasured art collections after claiming her mother was the secret love child of a famed British aesthete. Now, Dialta Orlandi is poised to inherit a large slice of an estate thought to be worth up to £800m (R1.4bn), containing both the superb 6,000-piece collection and an exquisite Florentine villa, after DNA results confirmed she is the granddaughter of Arthur Acton.

The bitter legal feud began after Sir Harold Acton, Arthur’s son, an art connoisseur born in Italy, died childless at 89 in 1994.

The avowedly homosexual philanthropist, immortalised as the stuttering Anthony Blanche in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, left most of his fine art and property to New York University (NYU), with a smaller bequest to the British Institute in Florence. It includes the magnificent 60-room Renaissance Villa La Pietra, which overlooks Florence. Guests have included Queen Elizabeth, DH Lawrence, Pablo Picasso, Graham Greene and Sir Winston Churchill...

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