Monday, February 19, 2024

Princess Ira von Fürstenberg (1940-2024)

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 HSH Princess Ira von Fürstenberg died in Rome on February 19. She was 83 years old.   The princess was "endowed with great charm" and "one of the noble sexy icons of the 60s," according to Il Messaggero's obituary.  

The Princess was married twice, first to HSH Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1924-2003), and after their divorce, she wed a Brazilian industrialist Francisco "Baby" Pignatelli (1916-1977).  Both marriages were dissolved by divorce.

Princess Virginia Carolina Theresa Pancrazia Galdina von Fürtstenberg was born in Rome on April 17, 1940, one of three children and the only daughter of Prince Tassilo von Fürstenberg and Clara Agnell, the daughter of Edoardo Agnelli, whose father Giovanni founded Fiat, the Italian auto company.

Her paternal grandparents were Prince Karl Emil von Fürstenberg and Countess Mária Matild Georgina Festetics von Tolna, the daughter of Prince Tassilo Festetics von Tolna and Lady Mary Victoria Douglas Hamilton, the daughter of William, 11th Duke of Hamilton, and Princess Marie Amelie of Baden.   Lady Mary's first husband, was Albert I, Prince of Monaco.  Their great-great-grandson is the present Prince of Monaco, Albert II.

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 At the age of 15, Princess Ira was married to 31-year-old HSH Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, a member of the Spanish Catholic branch of the German princely house.  Alfonso was one of the founders of the Marbella Club.

Their wedding took place in Venice on September 15, 1955, and was a Life Magazine cover story.

 They had two sons, Prince Christoph "Kiko"  Victorio Egon Humberto (1956-2006) and Prince Hubertus "Hubi" Rudolph (1959) before the marriage was dissolved by divorce in 1960 and annulled nine years later.

The reason for the divorce was the princess' affair with Francisco Pignatari, who was known as Baby due to a reputation for being a playboy. They married on January 12, 1961, in Reno, Nevada.   Three years later, in January 1964, the couple were granted a Las Vegas divorce.    

Ira had met the "legendary playboy" in Cortina, Italy in December 1959.  When he learned about his wife's infidelity, he filed a charge for adultery and custody of the couple's two young sons.  In 1960, adultery was a criminal offense for the "adulteress and for the accomplice."  The punishment was prison.  

Prince Alfonso dropped the adultery charge in exchange for custody of Prince Christian and Prince Hubertus. 

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Princess Ira was only 25 years old when her second marriage ended.  Thanks to the Italian producer, Dino de Laurentis, she began a new career as a B actress in Italian films.  All told, she made 28 movies.

In 1987, Prince Rainier III of Monaco's office issued a statement denying rumors that he and Princess Ira were about to marry.  "For the past few days, the media has announced the remarriage of Prince Rainier of Monaco."This information is completely false and without foundation."   The Monagesque sovereign and Princess Ira were second cousins.

In June 2023, Princess Ira "talks taste" in an interview with the Financial Times.   She spoke about style and taste.  "For me, style is about wearing the right thing at the right moment, which can be difficult.  Many people overdress or dress down.  It's difficult to find that middle way."

She said the best gift she received "is probably an apartment in Rome that was given to me by a lover."

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Princess Ira is survived by her younger son, Prince Hubertus, a skier who has represented Mexico in the Winter Olympics, and her younger brother, Prince Sebastian. (1950.   Her elder son, Kiko, died in a Bangkok jail after "allegedly altering his expired visa" to return to his home in Hawaii.  The prince had been visiting a Thai weight loss spa.   

Her brother, Prince Egon, a designer, died in 2004.  His first wife was Diane Halfin, better known as the designer Diane von Fürstenberg.   Princess Ira was a first cousin of the late Prince Karl of Schwarzenberg.  His mother was her maternal aunt, Princess Antonie of Fürstenberg.

Last week Diane von Fürstenberg spoke with her former sister-in-law.  She told WWD: "When I first met Egon, she was the famous sister. She had gotten married in Venice and was a movie star. She was the big sister and the aunt to my children,  She was part of Italy's jet set.  She was very gregarious.  She was a lot of fun and loved to laugh.  She never complained:"

The princess also had American ancestry.  Her maternal grandmother, Donna Virginia Bourbon del Monte dei principi di San Faustino, was the daughter of Carlo Bourbon del Monte, Prince di San Faustino, and Jane Allen Campbell, the Montclair, New Jersey-born daughter of George W. Campbell and Virginia Watson.   George Campbell's father, Ludlow, made his fortune as a linseed oil trader.

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 In 2019, Nicholas Foulkes authored a biography of the princess: Princess Ira: The Life and Times of a Princess.

Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton - Louis II - Charlotte - Rainier III
                                                -   Maria - Tassilo - Ira


Andrea said...


BayTampaBay said...

Who were the three wives of Prince Egon von Fürstenberg? I am aware of Diane but did not know Prince Egon von Fürstenberg had two other wives.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Two marriages ... Lynn Marshall was egon's second wife. They married in 1983