Sofia Bassi: Everything is history ... and speaking of murderous women...

In 1968 the painter Sofia Bassi turned herself over to the police for the murder of her son-in-law, Count Cesare D'Aquequarone, husband of her daughter Claire. She argued that it had been an accident.

Sofia Bassi: Everything is history ... and speaking of murderous women...
Sofia Bassi. Image: YouTube video screenshot

At fifty-three, Sofía Celorio Mendoza was still capable of arousing passions. Cultured, university, recognized surrealist painter; owner of a slender body, sharp features and green eyes that stood out like those of a cat in the dark on his light brown skin, figured first in cultural circles; then she occupied the red page of the tabloids; she painted and taught painting in prison, and after regaining her freedom she continued to paint and write until her death.

Her life was dedicated to yoga, philosophy, painting, and social daily life. Before turning 20 she had a first marriage, a calamitous union that ended in divorce and from which Claire Diericx was born. Then he married Juan Francisco Bassi, a survivor of the Mexican Porfirian aristocracy (suspected of having murdered his first wife to keep his money) and who had a second son, Franco. She was known by her stage name: Sofía Bassi, the surname of her second husband.

Claire Diericx beautiful and delicate, encouraged by her mother studied painting with the best teachers in Mexico, Italy, and Belgium. Coinciding with the stalest of the Italian aristocracy, she ended up marrying Count Césare d'Acquarone 20 years older than her. At that time the count was 58 years old, five more than his mother-in-law. A fan of hunting, the honeymoon was a trip dedicated to big game hunting in Africa; with Count Claire, he had a daughter: Chantal.

The couple, with their daughter and Claire's mother, settled in a luxurious villa in the exclusive Las Brisas subdivision in Acapulco. And there, on January 2, 1966, the Count d'Acquarone appeared floating in the pool with five bullets in his body. Sofía Bassi herself called the police to which she told a naive story: the gun had been fired while she was showing it to the count; there had been no witnesses.

The journalistic hypothesis of the time indicated that Claire had murdered her husband after finding him sexually abusing her younger brother, Franco. Sofia would have taken charge of the crime so that her daughter, who was only 30 years old, would not go to jail.

The version of the accident was dismissed from the beginning by the police; there was no way that, by manipulating the weapon, five bullets had escaped him. His daughter Claire refused to be tested for paraffin wax (at that time Harrison's was not practiced in Mexico) until two days after the crime was committed.

The painter supported his version of the event throughout the trial in which everything was aimed at the crime of the Italian noble went unpunished. The relationship of the Bassi with the Mexican justice was very close but the d'Acquarone were not willing to abandon the cause. Although they opposed the cremation of the corpse and demanded a new investigation, things did not change much. It was not possible to discover (or prove) who had really murdered the earl but a condemnatory sentence for Sofia since she always held the authorship of the crime. She received a sentence of eleven years in prison.

The woman was lodged in the infirmary of Acapulco prison and there, always dressed in white and smiling, she devoted herself completely to painting. His works were auctioned for charity purposes. She received the visit of famous artists and creators such as Alberto Gironella, Francisco Corzas, Rafael Coronel, then very young José Luis Cuevas, and even David Alfaro Siqueiros, who collaborated in the creation of the first Bassi mural, painted in jail and that now it is exhibited in the Acapulco Municipal Presidency.

Although the sentence was eleven years, Sofia Bassi remained imprisoned only five given that thanks to good offices of influential Mexican and foreign friends, was free in 1971.

The Count d'Acquarone was a member of a well-known family of Italian nobility, closely linked to power and an active participant in the fight against fascism. Even his father was directly related to the execution of Benito Mussolini. And one of the questions that came and went in the newsrooms was that why Claire did not get divorced instead of killing him? Many explained it based on the pre-nuptial contract; if Claire divorced, she lost the Count's fortune and perhaps what mattered more to her: she would be without her Countess title; On the other hand, being a widow, none of that would happen.

So Sofia Bassi, by pleading guilty to the crime, not only saved her daughter from going to prison, but saved her inheritance, her name, her nobility and her fortune for her daughter.

Sofia Bassi died on September 11, 1998, at 85 years of age. His daughter, the beautiful and sweet Claire, long after the death of his mother, tried to commit suicide by ingesting a good amount of sleeping pills; She did not succeed but the barbiturates caused her to be blind for life. It is speculated that she left a letter explaining what happened in Acapulco that January 1966, but the letter was never found. Claire died at age 67, in 2005.