Gérard Depardieu Punches the ‘King of Paparazzi’ Outside Rome Cafe

The French film star Gérard Depardieu repeatedly punched Rino Barillari, known as the “king of paparazzi,” on Tuesday at Harry’s Bar on the Via Veneto, the grand hotel and cafe-lined avenue that was a lively haunt for celebrity-hunting paparazzi decades ago, according to the photographer and a journalist who witnessed the altercation.

It could have been a scene straight out of “La Dolce Vita,” Federico Fellini’s early 1960s film that introduced the character of an annoying and eccentric photographer who hounded the movie stars that swelled the casts of Cinecittà film studios when Rome was known as “Hollywood on the Tiber.”

Seeing Mr. Depardieu, 75, and Mr. Barillari, 79, on the Via Veneto was like “a time machine,” said Gianni Riotta, a columnist for the newspaper La Repubblica who said he saw the attack while he was having coffee at Harry’s Bar.

Mr. Riotta said that Mr. Barillari had repeatedly been asked to stop taking photographs, and that when he turned to leave he was followed into the street by a shouting woman who had been sitting with Mr. Depardieu. The actor reached the photographer “and hit him, hit him, hit him,” Mr. Riotta recalled.

“There was a lot of blood,” he said.

Mr. Riotta said he gave a witness statement to the police when they arrived on the scene. It was unclear whether Mr. Barillari, who was taken by ambulance to a downtown hospital, would press charges.

Lawyers for Mr. Depardieu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Delphine Meillet, a lawyer for the woman who had been sitting with Mr. Depardieu, Magda Vavrusova, said in a statement that Mr. Barillari had “violently pushed” her, touching her chest with his arm. She said that when Mr. Depardieu intervened, he had “fallen and slid onto” the photographer. Ms. Vavrusova was taken to a hospital and planned to sue Mr. Barillari, the lawyer said.

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