Widow settles dispute with Pavarotti's daughters over will

Nicoletta Mantovani, the widow of Luciano Pavarotti has reached an amicable agreement with the Italian tenor's three daughters by his first wife over the division of his estate, her lawyer said yesterday.

The agreement has headed off the risk of a potentially acrimonious battle over the assets of "Big Luciano", believed to be worth at least £200m.

Ms Mantovani's lawyer, Anna Maria Bernini, said her client and Pavarotti's three adult daughters, Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana, were now firm friends. The three regarded Ms Mantovani's daughter, Alice, as "a fourth sister", Ms Bernini told the regional newspaper Il Resto del Carlino.

"The assets have been divided equitably and in keeping with legal parameters," Ms Bernini told the paper. She said the main change involved Ms Mantovani's decision to renounce ownership of Pavarotti's holiday villa in Pesaro in favour of the daughters. She declined to comment on other aspects of the agreement.

Pavarotti died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 71 in September 2007 and his death was followed by media speculation over an inheritance battle. The atmosphere was embittered by allegations by some of the tenor's friends that Ms Mantovani had restricted access to her husband during his last illness and taken advantage of his debilitated mental state to alter his will in her favour.

Pavarotti divorced his first wife, Adua Veroni, in 1996. He reportedly gave her a generous settlement at the time, reflecting the fact that she had been his business manager as his singing career propelled him to wealth and fame. His second wife had been his secretary and was 34 years his junior. They married in 2004.

A Pesaro public prosecutor, Massimo di Patria, is investigating allegations that Pavarotti was not of sound mind when he signed a will disposing of his American assets. The inquiry was opened last October following allegations by an Italian notary, Luciano Buonanno, who expressed doubts about the tenor's mental state when he signed the American will.

Ms Bernini said she was confident that the prosecutor would decide to shelve the investigation. Mr Di Patria told the Ansa news agency yesterday that he was awaiting the results of specific inquiries and expected to make a decision on the case in August.

Ms Mantovani spoke out publicly only once to reject the criticisms of her behaviour, in a television interview last October in which she revealed that she had been suffering from multiple sclerosis for the past 13 years.

The tenor himself would have approved of the agreement, Ms Bernini claimed. "He didn't want war with anyone, he avoided disputes," she said.

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