Anne Hathaway Said It Was “Love at First Sight” With “Vati-Con” Man Raffaello Follieri

The actress and the Italian real estate developer dated for four years.

Anne Hathaway, Raffaello Follieri
Anne Hathaway, Raffaello Follieri. Photo: Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Who: Italian real estate developer and "Vati-Con" scandal instigator Rafaello Follieri, 42, and Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway, 38.

How They Met: According to a Vanity Fair report, Follieri and Hathaway met in early 2004 through a mutual friend.

The relationship got off to a rocky start when Follieri was an hour late to his first date with Hathaway. The Princess Diaries star was reportedly "furious," but Follieri later made up for the transgression when he sent the actress a dozen roses.

Hathaway reportedly described meeting Follieri as "totally love at first sight" in an interview. "He is sooo good-looking," she gushed. "He looks like a god."

TBT: Anne Hathaway and Raffaello Follieri
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Why We Loved Them: Though the relationship was by no means perfect, it also wasn't without its redemptive arcs.

Hathaway and Follieri did value charity work, and the Follieri Foundation (whose board Hathaway had reportedly joined) allowed the couple to travel to Nicaragua to administer Hepatitis A vaccines to children.

"My boyfriend is incredible in a lot of ways, but when it comes to his charity... One of the most untouted aphrodisiacs in the world is charity work," Hathaway told Harper's Bazaar in 2007. "Seriously, you want a girl to be impressed, vaccinate some kids, build a house." Money laundering, however, is ill-advised.

TBT: Anne Hathaway and Raffaello Follieri
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When They Peaked: From an outsider's perspective, this relationship was a bourgie fantasy, ripped from the pages of movie scripts and smelling of Chanel No. 5 and offshore accounts. For a time, nothing was off the table — Hathway and Follieri would attend the Oscars, spend a weekend at the Ritz, charter a $107,000 private jet to Oscar de la Renta's New Year's Eve party in the Dominican Republic …

TBT: Anne Hathaway and Raffaello Follieri
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Still, it was their endearingly domestic moments we loved the most. During one of their many routine red carpet outings, the couple reportedly got into a bit of a tiff when it came to Hathaway's, uh, name? According to The Washington Post, the actress, who famously goes by "Annie" in her personal life, became a bit peeved when her boyfriend called her … by her name.

"You're not supposed to say the other name," she told him in front of reporters.

"It's the professional name," she said of "Anne," adding that she and Follieri were "not professional with each other" before absconding to the restroom.

TBT: Anne Hathaway and Raffaello Follieri
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The Breakup: In June 2008, just days before Follieri (who'd told investors he was CFO of … The Vatican) was arrested and charged on counts of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy, Hathaway reportedly called things off with her boyfriend of four years.

Follieri, who'd been living at his parents' Trump Tower apartment at the time of his breakup and arrest, (naturally) won the sympathy of Donald Trump himself.

"She hasn't remained very loyal to him, has she?" Trump told — wait for it — Billy Bush on Access Hollywood. "So when he had plenty of money, she liked him, but then after that, not as good, right?"

Though many were quick to question Hathaway's involvement in Follieri's scams — much of the laundered money was ultimately used to her benefit (see: $107,000 private jet trip) — the actress told W Magazine that news of Follieri's arrest (which she learned in the middle of her Get Smart press tour) had her "in shock."

TBT: Anne Hathaway and Raffaello Follieri
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"It's a situation where the rug was pulled out from under me all of a sudden," she went on.

And embezzlement wasn't the only thing standing between Follieri and Hathaway. The actress told Vogue that she knew she and her ex "saw things differently" when he asked their maid to dispose of wilting cherry blossoms that Hathaway thought "were beautiful even as they died." It's the little things.

An auction supporting the "victims" of Follieri's crimes was made up in part by items the con man had gifted to Hathaway with misappropriated funds: $10,525 sapphire and diamond earrings, an 18-carat emerald and pearl Cartier necklace, an $8,310 topaz, and diamond cuff bracelet.

Messy as the media coverage was, Hathaway bounced back quickly (and with a necessary dose of humor). Early the following year, the Les Miserables star told Ellen DeGeneres that her criteria for future suitors was simple: "At this point, I would just like him to be law abiding."

There was even a silver lining to the whole debacle.

"The whole experience made me so much closer to my family," Hathaway admitted. "I feel like I'm a better friend, because I had to receive so much love in 2008, so I really understand what it is now to give it. It was really a transformative experience in a lot of good ways."

TBT: Anne Hathaway and Raffaello Follieri
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Follieri was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison and released in 2012. Upon his release, he gave an interview to ABC News, touching on Hathaway's engagement to Adam Shulman.

"I want only the best for this person,"he said. "She was very sweet to me. We had, I think, a very nice relationship. I don't have anything bad to say."

He added that he and Hathaway had discussed marriage themselves "several times," but life had other plans. "I think when somebody spends four and a half years without another person means that — it was something that was working for us … but life goes in a different direction that we cannot control."

Where They Are Now:

Follieri was deported back to Italy following his release from prison and is reportedly working on a memoir. In 2019 he revealed he and his girlfriend Konstantina Koumouri had welcomed a son two years prior.

Hathaway wed Shulman in 2012 and now share two sons: Jonathan, 5, and Jack, who was born in late 2019. Next up for the actress is Amazon Prime series Solos.

#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.

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