The Duchess of Alba, Spain’s wealthiest woman and one of the most eccentric figures throughout Europe, has died at the age of 88.
The woman who held more titles than any other aristocrat died Thursday in her Seville home after battling pneumonia, for which she was recently hospitalized.
María del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart was known for her exuberant presence, her high voice and flamboyant, and somewhat bohemian, sense of dress. She headed one of Spain’s oldest noble families and was known to lead a life even more extravagant than that of a queen. TODAY was given a first-hand look at her home in 2011 during Matt Lauer's "Where in the World" series.
A distant relative of England’s Queen Elizabeth, the duchess lived a lavish life in palaces and estates filled with the world’s best private art collection, including works by Rembrandt and Velazquez. She notoriously turned down the chance to pose for Pablo Picasso.
The duchess leaves behind lavish properties, a vast art collection and historical documents that include Christopher Columbus’ first map of the Americas.
She is survived by her husband, Alfonso Diez, who is 25 years her junior and whose marriage three years ago was opposed by her children as well as Spain's King Juan Carlos. She is also survived by her six children.