All About Estates

The Life and Legacy of Gina Lollobrigida – An Estates Perspective

Today’s blog is written by Jessica J. Butler, Law Clerk at Fasken LLP.

Italian cinema legend Gina Lollobrigida passed away at the age of 95 in January 2023.  Known by fans as ‘La Lollo’, she starred in over 60 films which included the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sean Connery.

Gina’s legacy includes a past fraught with disputes considered to be some of the most common and ‘classic’ wills and estates issues.

Gina met and began a decades-spanning romantic relationship with businessman Francisco Javier Rigau y Rafols.  Francisco was 43 years Gina’s junior, a point of contention among Gina’s closet friends who accused Francisco of attempting to steal Gina’s assets during their relationship. The couple split in 2007; however, in 2013, Gina discovered that Francisco had managed to marry her by “proxy” in 2010 – he used an impersonator to stand in as Gina at a legal ceremony.  Gina asserted she had no knowledge of the marriage and had not consented to it.  She accused Francisco of using the scheme as a means of misappropriating her assets[1].  Francisco was charged with fraud and forgery with respect to the proxy marriage.

The story does not end there – there were two others competing for the role of leading man in La Lollo’s life.  Gina had one child, a son, Milko Skofic Jr., born in 1957.  In the last 13 years of Gina’s life, an assistant, Andrea Piazzolla, helped care for her.  Milko accused Andrea of embezzling millions from Gina, and Milko successfully obtained a court order from the Italian Supreme Court freezing Gina’s assets.  The court found that she was vulnerable to exploitation due to her weakened sense of reality.

This caused a rift between mother and son, and Gina allegedly wanted to leave Milko out of her Will entirely.  Fortunately for Milko, Italian succession laws provide for forced heirship.  In Italy (as well as other jurisdictions, but we’ll save that for another blog!), the law requires a reserved share to the spouse and/or children[2] of an Italian citizen.  An Italian testator therefore cannot freely dispose of all their assets by Will.  The reserved share will go to Milko, but Gina also provided a share of her estate to her assistant, Andrea.  Andrea has been accused of elder abuse – it is alleged that he manipulated Gina into signing over assets to him while isolating her from her family and friends.

Milko has also alleged that his mother lacked the requisite capacity to make a Will when she did, leaving half her estate to Andrea.  A hearing, scheduled for June 7, 2023, will decide whether Gina had testamentary capacity at the time of making the Will propounded by Andrea.  If the Judge finds that she lacked capacity, than the purported Last Will shall not be valid, and the Italian intestate succession laws will govern – Articles 565 to 586 of the Italian Civil Code[3] apply, and as Gina was not married at her time of death and Milko is her sole child, Milko would be the sole beneficiary of the estate – not dissimilar to our intestate succession laws in Canada.

The cherry on top of this estate litigation sundae – it was discovered during a recent estate inventory that assets totalling over €9 million (approximately $13 million CAD) are missing from Gina’s estate.  In 2014, it was estimated her estate was worth almost $50 million CAD.

Given the interesting cast of characters in La Lollo’s life, it’s safe to say this story is no where near over. Stay tuned…

[1] See discussion below on Italian succession laws.

[2] and devolving to the surviving parents if no spouse or children, and so on, in the same manner as the Ontario laws of intestacy.


About Corina Weigl
Corina Weigl is a partner in the Trusts, Wills, Estates and Charities group at Fasken, a leading international law firm with over 650 lawyers and 9 offices worldwide that offers comprehensive estate planning, estate administration, personal tax planning, charitable giving and estate litigation services. Email:


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