Bunhill: Ca' Dario

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A BEAUTIFUL 15th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice, known as the Ca' Dario, and especially noted for its inlaid marble facade, is for sale. Cheap. Not surprisingly, for, according to the Art Newspaper, the last owner of the Palazzo was Raul Gardini, the ex-chairman of Montedison, who committed suicide in the Palazzo last July. His was not the first death associated with this veritable Palace of Doom. Twenty years earlier, Kit Lambert, son of the composer Constant Lambert and manager of the Who, was killed after he had moved out of the palazzo, following a row with a drug dealer.

Lambert complained that he could not cope with the many ghosts of previous victims of the curse of Ca' Dario. The first death was that of the original owner's illegitimate daughter, who died - apparently of a broken heart - after marrying into the Barbaro family. But the curse originated a century later, with the death in an ambush of Giacomo Barbaro, after which the locals avoided buying the place.

Later owners who came to sticky ends included an Armenian diamond merchant, who died in poverty after losing his fortune, and two Englishmen, one Rawson Brown and his lover, who both committed suicide. A later (American) owner was hounded from the country, because his lifestyle was too flamboyant even for the normally tolerant Venetians.

And between Lambert and Gardini came an Italian businessman, Fabrizio Ferrari. The naked body of his sister Nicoletta, who lived in the Palazzo, was found in a field.

(Photograph omitted)