One of the greatest judicial sagas ever, it fascinated Italy and dominated the headlines for many years. On March 27th, 1995, Maurizio Gucci, grandson of Guccio Gucci and head of the Italian luxury house branded with the double G, was assassinated in the doorway of his Milanese office. Three gunshots in the back and a final, fatal one to the head. Witnessing the scene, the building doorman was also shot in the arm as he helped the dying 46-year-old heir
Score-settling? Mafia homicide? Pressured by the other heirs of the Gucci family, Maurizio Gucci had sold his 50% stake two years earlier to the Bahraini investment firm Investcorp, pocketing between $150 million and $200 million. Litigation within the board of directors of the Florentine brand, however, was not sufficient to justify such an assassination according to the police, who quickly turned to another suspect: Patrizia Reggiani, the smouldering ex-companion of Maurizio Gucci.
Nicknamed “the black widow” by the Italian press, Patrizia Reggiani had met Maurizio Gucci at a high society party in Milan in the early 1970s. After getting married in 1972, they had two daughters Allegra and Alessandra, and led a lavish existence between Milan and New York – where the young couple frequented members of the Kennedy clan and the billionaire Aristotle Onassis. A dream life that began to crumble in 1983, when Maurizio took charge of Gucci after his father's death. The heir devoted all his energy to restoring the grandeur of the luxury house which was struggling to renew itself in the early 80s. One morning, tired of the interfering and narcissistic personality of his wife, MaurizioGucci threw his things into a travel bag and left the marital home for good.
He soon met a young decorator, who the Italian press revelled in describing - possibly wrongly - as a gold-digger. For the following ten years, Patrizia Reggiani refused a divorce but was forced to succumb to the inevitable in 1994, less than a year before the murder. On television she told Italy that the three billion Italian lire (equivalent to 1.5 million euros today) in compensatory pension paid by her husband was pittance for a woman of her rank. She also revealed her fear that Maurizio Gucci’s legacy – an estimated 800 billion lire (around 400 million euros), a vast yacht and countless apartments around the world – would be left to his new companion. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the black widow was busy engaging a hitman: "I was asking everyone, it was an obsession, I would have even asked my butcher!" she admitted to jurors a few years later, even though she still denied seeing it through.
The investigation was stalled for nearly two years, but in early 1997 an informant set investigators on the trail of Ivano Savioni, a 40-year-old man from Milan who claimed to be the go-between between Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci’s murderers. Obsessed with fortune-telling, Patrizia Reggiani had got to know Savioni through her clairvoyant, who became a close friend. Far from suspecting that they’d been tapped, Ivano Savioni and the clairvoyant openly discussed and confirmed that Patrizia Reggiani has spent over 600 million lire (about 300,000 euros) on the assassination of her ex-husband. On January 31st, 1997, all suspects were arrested by the Italian police.
The trial was to be marked by Patrizia Reggiani’s colourful personality. She instantly claimed her innocence and that she was the victim of a coup organised by the rest of the team. But it was in vain. Maurizio Gucci's ex-wife was sentenced to 26 years in prison and her accomplices were also imprisoned. In 2011, when the judges offered her day parole alternating between prison and employment, she refused. “I’ve never worked in my life, I’m certainly not going to start now,” she announced to a dumbfounded audience. Two years later, the black widow finally accepted the offer and left prison on September 16th 2013.
To the delight of the paparazzi and the Italian press, Patrizia Graziani remained true to herself, even after 16 years of prison, and immediately went shopping on the Via Monte Napoleone, one of the most famous shopping destinations in Milan, with a macaw on her shoulder, explaining that she planned to work for Gucci. The luxury goods company made no comment…