MILAN — Fooling around doesn’t pay. Especially when you’re a political leader caught up in a scandalous, public divorce and need a way to cover up certain affairs. That’s what Silvio Berlusconi is learning this week. The Italian premier gave up his €78 million villa (or about $105 million U.S.) to his estranged wife this past weekend, in order to avoid a potentially embarrassing court battle.
Veronica Lario, a former actor, won ownership of Villa Belvedere in Macherio, Italy after a five-hour, in-person meeting between the couple and their divorce lawyers. With the villa, Lario, 53, agreed to accept a much-reduced monthly payment from the prime minister. She had initially requested €3.5 million per month from Berlusconi in January, but he refused to pay a monthly amount of more than €300,000.
Both parties’ divorce lawyers were “satisfied” with the new deal, according to The Independent. Lario currently lives in Villa Belvedere, to which she is reportedly very attached, with the couple’s three adult children, Barbara, Eleanora, and Luigi.
The trouble started more than a year ago, when reports of Berlusconi’s extramarital affairsbegan to surface. Lario initiated her divorce filing last May, after Berlusconi, 73, allegedly attended the 18th birthday celebration of his mistress, underwear model Noemi Letizia. Lario has accused him of “consorting with minors” in the Italian media.
In November, Lario’s legal team threatened to file for a separazione con addebito, a type of divorce in Italian law that cites the opposing side as responsible for the marital breakdown. Such a divorce likely would have dragged a lot of the marriage’s dirty laundry out in public, including Berlusconi’s supposed numerous affairs with prostitutes and starlets. The premier is already dealing with three criminal corruption charges.
Silvio Berlusconi and Veronica Lario have been a couple for three decades. They married in 1990. Bersluconi, who is serving his third separate term as prime minister, has one previous marriage.