February 24, 2010

George Clooney is driven out of Lake Como villa by paparazzi

The actor George Clooney is reported to be selling the villa on Lake Como that he shares with his Italian girlfriend after their privacy was invaded by paparazzi and fans.
Potential buyers of the 18th-century Villa Oleandra at Laglio on Lake Como, which Clooney bought in 2002 for a reported $8 million, include the footballer David Beckham, who plays for AC Milan.

Beckham and his wife, Victoria, who are living in a hotel in Milan, are said to have fallen in love with the villa while staying with Clooney last spring. Beckham later told team-mates that it was “quiet and peaceful, and not far from Milan”. The Corriere della Sera newspaper said that lawyers from Milan had approached the Swiss property company dealing with the sale on the Beckhams’ behalf.

Italian media also reported that Roustam Tariko, the Russian vodka and banking tycoon, was another prospective buyer. His company, however, insisted last night that he had not seen the villa and had never expressed an interest in purchasing it.

The villa complex, said to be on sale for 20 million euros (£18 million), includes a jetty, a botanical garden, tennis courts and an annexe. A short drive from Milan, Lake Como’s crystal-clear waters and mountain setting have long attracted the rich and famous. Other VIPs with properties at Lake Como include Sir Richard Branson, Donatella Versace and José Mourinho, the manager of Inter Milan.

Clooney’s girlfriend, Elisabetta Canalis, a former Italian showgirl and television hostess, was reported to be “furious and exasperated” last summer when the villa was staked out by paparazzi. The couple were particularly angry when photographers climbed over the villa wall and took photos of an under-age girl while she was changing clothes in one of his guest rooms, as well as photos of Clooney and Canalis.

The actor said at the time: “I don’t know about the law in the United States but in Italy it’s illegal for photographers to climb over my wall and to take long-lens pictures of a 13-year-old girl in her bedroom. I draw the line of privacy at that.”

Guests at the villa have included Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and scenes for the film Ocean’s Twelve were shot there. Property prices in the Como area have risen since the actor’s arrival.

Clooney and Canalis are said to be looking for “somewhere more private”, possibly in Le Marche or Sardinia.

One local paper reported that they were thinking of staying at Como but moving to a castle on a small island on the lake owned by a businessman from Bergamo.

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