A Rolex watch that was reportedly stolen off James Gandolfini the day he died is at the center of a trial that got under way this week in Rome — and TMZ.com reports that it’s also part of a “life imitating art” story that brings to mind a “Sopranos” episode.
After Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano on the HBO drama series, died in Rome in June 2013, an Italian paramedic came under suspicion of stealing Gandolfini’s Rolex Submariner off his wrist as Gandolfini was fighting for his life in a hotel. Gandolfini, who had suffered a massive heart attack, later died in a Rome hospital. He was 51.
“The paramedic, whose trial started Monday in Rome, is Claudio Bevilacqua. That name might sound familiar to hardcore ‘Sopranos’ fans … since Tony offed a Matt Bevilaqua in a 2001 episode of HBO’s hit show,” TMZ reports. “On the show, Bevilaqua robbed Tony’s crew and demanded a watch from one of the guys. The boss eventually catches up with Bevilaqua and delivers some mob justice.”
TMZ also notes: “Adding to the creepy life imitating art thing — Bevilaqua was played by Lillo Brancato, who eventually did time in real life for attempted burglary.”
The U.K. paper The Telegraph reports that Bevilacqua did not appear in court this week and has yet to enter a plea. His trial was reportedly adjourned until November.