Princess who has been an icon for Marbella passed away

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Ira von Fürstenberg

Princess Virginia Carolina Theresa Pancrazia Galdina zu Fürstenberg, better known as Ira von Fürstenberg, played a key role in the transformation of Marbella from an insignificant coastal town to the haven of the jet set. The aristocrat, actress, designer and artist died on Monday at the age of 83 at her home in her hometown of Rome.

Ira was the daughter of the Austro-Hungarian prince and descendant of Charlemagne, Tassilo von Fürstenberg and Clara Agnelli, granddaughter of the founder of Fiat. At the age of 15, she married Alfonso de Hohenlohe, godson of kings Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia. Hohenlohe would become the architect of tourist Marbella. Their 1955 wedding in Venice was a gathering of the crème de la crème of Central European nobility. It was celebrated in the media as an extraordinary fairy tale.

Jet set

During their five-year marriage, Princess Ira and Alfonso became the face of the jet set. In 1954, Alfonso de Hohenlohe converted his family’s estate, Santa Margarita, into the most luxurious hotel on the coast. His rich and famous friends, including the German millionaire Gunter Sachs and the actress Brigitte Bardot, Count Rudi and Princess María Luisa of Prussia, Jaime de Mora y Aragón, the Von Bismarcks and the Duchess of Alba, began visiting the coast. Partly attracted by the prince and his attractive wife. ​

Costa del Sol is increasingly a luxury destination with Marbella at the forefront

Marbella’s golden years

In this way, the couple laid the foundation for the golden years that Marbella would experience. Ira, with her innocent look, seemed to fit perfectly into this world of glamour. “Marbella was a wild party where you came in and left with different people. One night it could be the Francos or the Bismarcks, another night Cayetana de Alba,” Ira revealed in an interview.

Turbulent life

Despite the glamorous life, Ira was not happy. That’s why she decided to divorce Alfonso, a decision he never got over. Ira found love again with Italian-Brazilian industrialist and playboy Francisco “Baby” Pignatari. After her divorce from De Hohenlohe, seen as a major scandal at the time, she married Pignatari in 1961. However, this marriage also ended in divorce in 1964. Ira von Fürstenberg described herself as a rebellious and independent woman who was never afraid of what people would say.

Cogesa Expats

Woman of the world

Ira’s life was rich and varied. She worked in the film industry and appeared in 20 films, was a well-known face in the fashion world, graced the covers of Vogue, and became a friend of Karl Lagerfeld. Later she devoted herself to designing art objects. Her creations, from jewellery boxes to table centres, have been exhibited in cities such as Paris, London and New York.


The most tragic moment in Ira’s life was the death of her eldest son Christoph. He died in 2006 at the age of 49 in a Thai prison under circumstances that have never been explained. This loss brought her closer to her other son Hubertus, former Olympic skier, photographer and permanent figure in the social chronicle of Marbella. She spent part of her time in Marbella with him.

Marbella Club

The Marbella Club will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2024. But the woman who put the Costa del Sol’s most famous hotel on the map will no longer be able to attend the planned festivities. She is remembered by Marbella Club as a curious, enterprising and very elegant woman. Her death ends an era at the hotel that was her home for so many years. Her old friend, Count Rudi Schoenberg, wrote: “We will miss her terribly.

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