Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic Rossano Rubicondi (left), Ivana Trump
Hardly anyone knew that Rossano Rubicondi, Ivana Trump’s fourth ex-husband, was seriously ill until he was found dead in late October, his parents said in an emotional interview on Italian TV.
In a recent appearance on Afternoon fiveRubicondi’s mother and father, Rosa and Claudio, opened up about his legacy and learned of his death and his ongoing bond with Donald Trump’s famous ex.
They said Rossano, 49, would be cremated.
“Ivana asked if she could keep half of the ashes. I said yes,” Rosa said, according to a translation.
It was Ivana, according to the interview with Rossano’s parents, who took care of him for the past year while he was secretly ill. While host Barbara d’Urso said Rossano had liver cancer before he had an accident while in the bathtub, his father said there was no trace of Rossano’s illness in their many phone calls.
That is, until a fateful last phone call with the news that their son was dead: Rosa became emotional in the interview when she remembered hearing what had happened.
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From left: Ivana Trump and Rossano Rubicondi in 2007
Claudio said that a vein in Rossano’s lung burst and that he fell in the bathtub and hit his head while he was home alone. He was found the next morning.
Ivana, 72 — who had an up and down relationship with Rossano over the years, but ended up staying close to him — called his parents herself.
“She called us to express her grief,” said Claudio, who also described becoming distraught.
Looking back, he said, Rossano seemed happy and well-established, living a good life. Both he and his wife said they now plan to remember their son in moments of joy, looking at old photos of him on the beach or, in a particularly fond memory, singing in a restaurant with his father. His possessions and the rest of his ashes would be sent to Italy.
The news about Rossano’s death was first shared publicly on October 29 by Italian TV personality Simona Ventura, who Posted a throwback photo of herself and Rubicondi on Twitter.
Ivana then confirmed the news, telling PEOPLE that she was “devastated”. (The listed Rossano representatives did not respond to requests for comment.)
Ivana married Rossano, her fourth husband, in April 2008 after dating for six years and a reported “household breakdown” over the prenuptial agreement. Their lavish $3 million ceremony was hosted by future President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida; their daughter, Ivanka Trump, served as a bridesmaid.
“It’s not a 24-7 marriage, but we both enjoy it!” Ivana told PEOPLE in 2009, referring to the couple’s often long-distance relationship.
RELATED: Ivana Trump Breaks Up With On-Off Ex-Husband No. 4, Rossano Rubicondi: ‘I Just Want To Be Free’
From left: Ivana Trump and Rossano Rubicondi in 2008
The two filed for divorce less than a year after getting married, but never drifted too far apart (even if Rossano had other relationships). The two danced together to the Italian version of Dancing with the stars in 2018.
Ivana later revealed that they called it quits in 2019, although they weren’t photographed together in New York City until July.
Rossano was born on March 14, 1972 in Rome and worked as a model and actor and appeared in such films as The Eighteenth Angel and The golden bowl with Uma Thurman and Kate Beckinsale. In more recent years, he had worked on the launch of Rossano To Go, a pizza parlor in West Palm Beach, Florida.