Raffaello Follieri claimed he had ties to the Vatican. He dated the star of “The Devil Wears Prada.” Now the baubles he accumulated as a servant of Mammon have been sold at auction.
The sale raised $95,047 for the victims of the Italian conman’s crimes. Prosecutors said Follieri stole $4 million from investors, including Ron Burkle’s private-equity firm Yucaipa Cos.
Rolex watches and diamond-and-sapphire earrings were among 20 lots with opening bids ranging from $30 to $6,375, many below market prices. The auction was organized by the U.S. Marshals Service, and bids were placed on the website of Gaston & Sheehan Auctioneers Inc. until 10:15 a.m. today.
Follieri, Anne Hathaway’s ex-boyfriend, was convicted of wire and real-estate fraud and money laundering, and sentenced in 2008 to 4 1/2 years in prison. He spent his money on a $37,000-a-month apartment overlooking Manhattan’s Central Park, private jets and personal vacations with Hathaway.
He told investors he had special connections to the Vatican and could obtain church properties in the U.S. at a significant discount.
Despite the celebrity pedigree, the auction bidding wasn’t spectacular. All opening bids amounted to less than $30,000. By yesterday afternoon New York time, they had increased to $49,223.
In online auctions, “the bids go up toward the end of the auction,” said Roland Ubaldo, spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.
The top lot, an 18-karat yellow-gold Daytona Cosmograph by Rolex reached $14,826 yesterday, compared with a retail price of $29,500. A 1995 Rolex Submariner that cost $6,000 until it was discontinued in 2009 went for $5,000. An Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch that retails for $17,900 sold for $7,201.
Four Years Dating
Hathaway and Follieri broke up before his arrest in June 2008, after dating for four years, People.com reported at the time.
The conman’s ex-girlfriend turned over the trinkets he had given her to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to special agent James M. Margolin of FBI New York. These pieces were part of the online auction, Margolin said.
Hathaway’s cascading blue sapphire-and-diamond earrings opened at $1,370 and sold for $10,525. A multi-tier diamond bracelet fetched $10,775. A set of two rings, including a blue-green flash-fire opal, reached $3,055.
Follieri is serving his sentence in a low-security prison for male inmates in Loretto, Pennsylvania, according to the website of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.