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Gina Lollobrigida’s ‘fake wedding to toy boy’

Gina Lollobrigida was once engaged to Javier Rigau y Rafols. Picture: Getty

Gina Lollobrigida was once engaged to Javier Rigau y Rafols. Picture: Getty

  • by TOM KINGTON
 

Legendary Hollywood sex symbol Gina Lollobrigida claims to have discovered by chance that she is married to a Spanish toy boy who fixed a fraudulent wedding ceremony to get his hands on her fortune.

Lollobrigida, 85, told police she found out on the internet that she had been unwittingly married to Javier Rigau y Rafols, 51, since 2010 and demanded the marriage be annulled.

“I am determined to shed light on this squalid affair,” said the actress whose voluptuous curves made her Italy’s answer to Marilyn Monroe in the 50s and 60s. Dubbed “The most beautiful woman in the world”, she co-starred with Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster and Sean Connery.

Lollobrigida dated Mr Rigau, an entrepreneur more than 30 years her junior, before coming close to marrying him in 2006. Mr Rigau pulled out at the last minute, claiming that the media pressure was too much for him. In statement reported at the time, Mr Rigau said he would always “love and respect” Lollobrigida.

Now, the actress claims that her former beau got her to sign a document in Spanish she did not understand and that he then used the signature to push through the marriage in Barcelona in November 2010. “A few days ago, I discovered by chance on the internet that Javier had used a legal document that I had signed for a civil case to hold the marriage in my absence and without my knowledge,” Lollobrigida, who lives in Rome, told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.

“Along with a lawyer who is assisting him, he is waiting for me to die to take possession of my estate. Javier had the courage to phone me and I told him ‘You have done something ignoble’ and put the phone down.”

Mr Rigau’s former lawyer, Javier Saavedra, said he had been told that Mr Rigau also paid a woman to attend the ceremony pretending to be Lollobrigida.

“This is a man who always on the look out for money and tries to mix with older members of high society he can take advantage of,” said the Spanish lawyer, who claimed Mr Rigau still owed legal fees. “Rigau is also an expert at faking documents,” he added.

The daughter of a furniture manufacturer from a small Italian mountain town, Lollobrigida was a Miss Italy contestant before breaking into acting and taking Hollywood by storm, winning a Golden Globe in 1961.

In 1968, she starred in Buona Sera, Mrs Campbell with Shelley Winters and Telly Savalas, which inspired the musical Mamma Mia! In the 1980s, she took a role in US soap opera Falcon Crest. Lollobrigida, who was nicknamed Lollo by fans, also became a successful photo-
journalist and secured an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro.

“I’ve had many lovers and still have romances,” she said in 2000. “I am very spoiled. All my life, I’ve had too many admirers.”

Lollobrigida married once, divorcing her husband, a Slovenian doctor in 1971.

Describing her romance with Mr Rigau, she said, “I was going through a deep depression, which started in 2004. I didn’t have clear ideas, a wedding seemed like a way to turn the page – to heal after a serious illness.” But her relationship with a man three decades younger than her was not passionate, she said. “He took me to dinner, he kept me company. There was nothing else between us.”

After changing her mind at the last minute about their planned New York nuptials, Lollobrigida said she and Mr Rigau had stayed in touch.

“He was kind and educated, even if I discovered that he lied. He had told me he was studying law, but I found out he was working as a labourer,” she said, adding she suspects him of plotting a series of other frauds.

 

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