Heiress to the Italian jewelry dynasty Bvlgari, Anna Bulgari Calissoni, passed away at the age of 93, a spokeswoman of the family announced on Sunday. She made it to headlines worldwide in 1983 when she and her teenager son were kidnapped by a gang of criminals in Aprilia, south of Rome.
The heiress died on Friday.
She was the only descendant of the founder of the Bvlgari dynasty, Sotirios Vuglaris, who would still speak Greek.
Even in high age, she would visit Paramythia, the village of her grandfather in Epirus, western Greece, notes local media paramythiaonline.
She would come incognito, enjoy Paramythia and the waters if the Ionian Sea, and she would not miss the opportunity to speak and advertise the place from which her grandfather started the jewelry empire.
Her life was like a fairy tale, and in addition to the professional success, she also had hard, difficult moments. The abduction of her and her son for 35 days.
“My son and I were taken hostage and held hostage for 35 days. They cut off my child’s ear in order to get the ransom. The kidnappers were from Sardinia. Murderers. They kept us on the floor and in the cold on a mountain for 35 days. My family paid the kidnappers 4 million lire, or 2 million euros. The child was strong, he said nothing, his ear was cut off with a knife. I lost 10 years of my life. It was terrible,” she said later.
Due to delays in the ransom payment, the criminals cut her son’s ear and sent it to the family.
Mother and son were released on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1983.
Giorgio had a serious infection from the amputation and needed five operations in order to have his ear reconstructed. Anna was full of wounds from the abuse she suffered at the hands of their captors.
After the kidnapping, Anna Bulgari lived away from the public light and was rarely seen in public appearance and then mostly for charity issues.
In March 2019, she met with a delegation of Paramythia municipality to discuss plans about the former school her grandfather had donated and the transformation of the historical building into a center for arts, culture and education.
Anna Bulgari Casilloni She was a mother of three. Her husband, entrepreneur Franco Casilloni (deceased) was at times mayor of Aprilia, a city with 74,000 inhabitants
The founder of the Bulgari brand, Sotirios Voulgaris was born in March 1857 and came from the Epirus Village of Paramythia, the largest Aromanian center of silversmithing in the Balkans.
In 1881, Sotirios Bulgari moved to Rome and, in 1884, opened his first store on via Sistina 85. In 1905, he unveiled the Via Condotti shop that would become the company’s flagship. In its early years, Bulgari was known for silver pieces that borrowed elements from Byzantine and Islamic art, combining them with floral motifs. At the time, Paris was the apex of fashion and creativity, and its trends influenced Sotirio’s designs for decades: jewels of the early 20s were characterised by platinum Art Deco settings while those of the 30s featured geometric diamond motifs—sometimes set in combination with coloured gemstones. Convertible jewels were also popular during the time, and one of Bulgari’s major piece was the Trombino, a small trumpet-shaped ring.
The traditional company Bulgari has been part of the French luxury group LVMH since 2011, which also includes the luxury brand Louis Vuitton.