Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, known as the Duchess of Alba, has died aged 88 in Seville.
She was Spain’s richest woman and one its most eccentric figures.
The Duchess of Alba had more titles than any other aristocrat and owned palaces and an extensive property portfolio as well as paintings by Goya and Velazquez.
She died at home on November 20 after a short illness.
She is survived by her husband of three years, Alfonso Diez, who is 25 years her junior.
The Duchess of Alba was the head of one of Spain’s oldest noble families.
The duchess was the world’s most titled person, according to Guinness World Records. She was five times a duchess, 18 times a marchioness, 18 times a countess, 14 times a Spanish grandee and once a viscountess.
The Duchess of Alba was a regular in Spanish gossip magazines and was famous for hosting Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy on their visits to Spain.
In 1959, she turned her palace in Madrid over to French designer Yves Saint Laurent for a Dior fashion show.
One of the more memorable images from her latter years came when she flung off her shoes to perform an impromptu flamenco dance before a crowd of photographers and guests at her third wedding in 2011.
The Duchess of Alba’s wealth, estimated at between €600 million ($753 million) and €3.5 billion, is expected to be shared among her six children.
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Duchess of Alba and her husband Alfonso Diez were today spotted enjoying a sunshine break on the island of Formentera.
The two, accompanied by a friend, took a cooling dip in the sea and enjoyed strolls along the beach.
With the typically extrovert duchess clad in a bright floral bikini and her friend in a cut-away cerise swimsuit, the threesome was sure to attract plenty of attention.
Duchess of Alba, 86, and Alfonso Diez, 61, married after much controversy in a ceremony last October; the bride, an eccentric billionaire with more titles than Queen Elizabeth II; her groom a civil servant young enough to be her son.
Alfonso Diez is the duchess’s third husband and 25 years her junior.
Duchess of Alba and her husband Alfonso Diez were today spotted enjoying a sunshine break on the island of Formentera
It emerged ahead of the wedding that the twice-widowed duchess had divided her $5 billion fortune between her six children to convince them that her suitor was besotted with her rather than her money.
Once they had realized the romance between their mother and Alfonso Diez was becoming serious her children had mounted a campaign to block any possible marriage.
They suggested publicly that she was emotionally unstable and even attempted to enlist the King of Spain in their efforts.
The duchess’s answer was to gift her five sons and daughter with their inheritance in advance.
Alfonso Diez also relinquished rights to his wife-to-be’s fortune in an effort to appease her heirs and convince them that he was not a gold-digger.
She did not give up her fortune to marry, rather designated who it will go to once she dies and until then remains in control of the House of Alba in its entirety, but her actions were enough to persuade most of Alfonso Diez’s detractors – and at least the four children that attended the wedding – that their love was real.
The colorful Spanish Royal wed her toyboy in a 15th century palace in Seville last October.
The eccentric Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart wore a delicate pale pink gown designed by Victorio y Lucchino for her third marriage, which took place in front of 38 guests.
Well-wishers donned fancy dress and wigs in an attempt to copy her quirky style as they celebrated in the city’s streets.
The duchess is a distant relative of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana and is among Spain’s most famous people.
Known now for her frizzy white hair, squeaky voice and wildly colorful clothes she entered Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed list in 2009 at the age of 83.
A bit of controversy is nothing new in the life of this multi-titled octogenarian.
Last year, Duchess of Alba was at the centre of a sex scandal when Spanish magazine Interviu published a 30-year-old picture on its front cover of the duchess sunbathing topless in Ibiza.
In July 2011 the duchess won damages of over $390,000 from a TV station that claimed she cheated on her first husband with a flamenco dancer.
She doesn’t really need the monet though.
Her fortune is estimated at around $5 billion but with a large chunk of her wealth tied up in property and art the figure could be up to $3.2 billion higher.
Upon her death each of the duchess’s children is now guaranteed to receive significant properties: her eldest, the future Duke of Alba, Carlos will become director of the Alba foundation and control both the Palacio de Liria and the Palacio de Monterrey, while the youngest and only daughter, Eugenia, gets a palace in Ibiza and a vast estate in Andalusia.
Duchess of Alba and Alfonso Diez, a social security administration employee, are old acquaintances through her second husband, who was a former priest, and Diez’s brother.
They bumped into each other about three years ago outside a cinema in Madrid and eventually started dating.