Maestro's niece cleans out Foundation vault

ROME — Just as “Nine” is about to hit Italian movie theaters, a Federico Fellini feud has erupted in Italy.

And the reason has nothing to do with Rob Marshall’s retooling of the maestro’s “8 1/2,” which unspools across the country Jan. 22.

Instead, intense animosity has surfaced between Fellini’s niece, Francesca Fabbri Fellini, and the Fellini Foundation in the helmer’s native Rimini.

Fellini’s feisty heiress has resigned from the foundation’s board in a huff, emptying the family vault, where the helmer’s five Oscars — one of which for “8 1/2″ — were stored, and also taking away Fellini’s library comprising some 2,000 tomes, from the foundation’s digs. Her motive is being kept mum.

Vittorio Boarini, topper of the Fellini Foundation, however, has downplayed the incident, saying its activities remain unimpaired, and also its properties which will soon include 1,500 rarely seen Fellini film and TV clips being bequeathed by pubcaster RAI and Cinecitta to the foundation for use by Fellini scholars.

The Fellini Foundation last November feted Sidney Lumet with a lifetime achievement nod on the 50th anniversary of the year “La Dolce Vita” was shot, which was also celebrated with a huge exhibition in Paris.

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