ROME, Italy – Anna Bulgari Calissoni, jewelry heiress and a descendant of Sotirios Bulgari (Voulgaris), the founder of the luxury brand Bulgari, passed away on May 22, according to a spokesperson for the family. She was 93.
With roots in Paramythia, Epirus, Anna Bulgari spoke Greek and would visit her ancestral homeland every year, Paramythia-online reported, adding that she always had the best things to say about the city where her grandfather began his jewelry empire.
A mother of three, she met in March 2019 with a delegation from the municipality of Paramythia to discuss the plans for the development of the former primary school donated to the city by Sotirios Voulgaris, and how the hall would be dedicated to the family, with Anna showing great interest in the plans to turn the historic building into an art and culture center, Paramythia-online reported.
Anna Bulgari Calissoni was a businesswoman and dedicated philanthropist. She kept out of the public eye for the most part, especially following the ordeal of being kidnapped and held for ransom. On November 19, 1983, Anna Bulgari and her son Giorgio Calissoni were kidnapped in Latina, Lazio, in central Italy, by members of the Sardinian Armed Movement, a short-lived terrorist movement advocating socialism and political independence for the island of Sardinia. The mother and son were held captive for 35 days as the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 4 million Italian lire (2 million euro).
She later said of the kidnapping, “My son and I were abducted 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,” Paramythia-online reported.
She was predeceased by her husband Franco with whom in 1956 she established the Calissoni Bulgari Estate which produces extra virgin olive oil and boasts over ten thousand olive trees, according to the Estate’s website.
The Bulgari brand was founded in Rome in 1884 by the Greek silversmith Sotirios Voulgaris, and quickly established a reputation for exquisite craftsmanship and magnificent jewelry creations. When Sotirios’ sons joined the business, Bulgari began to focus on the high-end jewelry that made the brand so famous. Celebrities including Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor wore Bulgari designs as the brand gained further international acclaim and opened stores in Paris and New York in the 1970s. The Bulgari company was sold to the French luxury brand LVMH in 2011.