Source: CNN

In a scene reminiscent of La Dolce Vita era, French actor Gerard Depardieu has been accused of attacking celebrity photographer Rino Barillari outside Harry’s Bar on the famed Via Veneto in Rome.

Depardieu was dining at an outdoor table with a female companion and two other people around 2 p.m. local time on Tuesday when Barillari – known as “the king” in Roman press circles – apparently snapped the diners, according to Italian media reports.

Exactly what happened next is a matter of dispute, though both sides say they have filed police reports known locally as denouncements.

Barillari, age 79, said Depardieu’s partner Magda Vavrusova jumped up and started punching him before Depardieu joined the fight, according to Barillari’s lawyer, as cited in several Italian media outlets including the Messaggero newspaper where Barillari works.

Police confirmed to CNN that “a local photographer” had filed a complaint around an incident at Harry’s Bar on Tuesday, but did not divulge the names of those involved.

Piero Lepore, the owner of Harry’s Bar in Rome, confirmed to CNN that the incident happened, but did not cast blame.

Barillari often captures celebrities dining at the establishment, which is famous for appearing in the 1960 Federico Fellini film “La Dolce Vita” – whose photographer character Paparazzo is reputed to have inspired the term “paparazzi.”

“We haven’t seen fisticuffs here in two decades. This sort of thing never happens here,” Lepore told CNN by telephone. “We are used to celebrities and we are used to paparazzi – they can’t survive without each other. But we are no longer used to these fights.”

When asked for details, he said that because there was now a denouncement by Barillari, he could not comment. “I gave my testimony to the police. I can’t say any more.”

Barillari was taken to hospital by ambulance, according to Lepore.

Magda Vavrusova’s lawyer, Delphine Meillet, said in a statement to CNN that it was Barillari who had pushed Vavrusova. Meillet told the Adnkronos news agency that Vavrusova filed a denouncement with Rome police stating: “The photographer pushed me, touching my torso and chest with his arm. At this moment in which I present the complaint I still feel pain, it was very violent.”

Meillet told the news agency that Vavrusova was also in the hospital, though calls to the University Policlinico Umberto did not confirm her as a patient. Meillet also told the news outlet that in fact Depardieu had run to intervene after the photographer attacked his companion and “slipped and fell on him.”

CNN has also reached out to Depardieu’s lawyer for comment.

A spokesperson for Rome police said they are currently looking for surveillance footage from the area.

Barillari got his start as a celebrity paparazzi when he was just 16 years old by delivering photos he had taken of celebrities at the Trevi Fountain to various news outlets, according to his biography.

He has been to the emergency room 200 times after being attacked by his subjects, he said in a documentary to mark his 70th birthday nine years ago.

He went on to become Rome’s most infamous paparazzi, publishing several books of his images which have included popes, presidents and stars like Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Liz Taylor and Frank Sinatra, according to his bio.

He has suffered 82 broken cameras, 11 broken ribs and a broken femur after photographing a local celebrity allegedly beating up his girlfriend in Piazza Navona, where he lives and keeps a photo studio.

Depardieu’s run-in with Barillari comes after the Paris prosecutor’s office told CNN last month that the French actor – known for his roles in films like “Green Card,” “The Man in the Iron Mask” and “Life of Pi” – would face trial in October over allegations of sexual assault said to have taken place during the shooting of “Les Volets Verts” in 2021.

The actor is also being formally investigated on suspicion of rape and sexual assault allegedly committed in August 2018 against actress Charlotte Arnould, the prosecutor’s office said. The French actor has denied all the rape and sexual assault accusations.

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