Maurizio Gucci was a scion of the Italian fashion empire Gucci. He was born into the famous Gucci family and raised in luxury while later taking charge of the world-renowned eponymous brand. He married a wealthy socialite named Patrizia Reggiani. However, as shown in the upcoming movie, ‘House of Gucci’ directed by Ridley Scott, Maurizio Gucci would not only lose all control over the company but would also be murdered at the direction of his own wife, Patrizia Reggiani on the steps of his office in Milan, Italy on March 27, 1995.
Maurizio Gucci was born in Florence, Italy, on September 26, 1948. His grandfather Guccio Gucci founded the eponymous designer brand there in 1921. Maurizio’s uncle Aldo had taken over the managing of the company from his father in the post-World War II period. At the time, the Gucci brand was worn by the likes of Hollywood stars as well as US President John F. Kennedy. Maurizio Gucci was urged to take on the mantle of leading the company by Patrizia Reggiani. He worked hard to become the company chairman but was ultimately murdered in 1995 after having almost driven the company into the ground.
Giuseppe Onorato, the doorman of Maurizio Gucci’s private office at Via Palestro 20 in Milan later remembered that it had been a lovely spring morning when Maurizio Gucci had arrived at the office carrying some magazines and had greeted Onorato with a ‘good morning’. But then, Onorato saw a beautiful and clean hand, which was aiming a gun at Maurizio Gucci, and shot him four times at 8.30 AM. Gucci died on the spot.
Maurizio Gucci’s early life
Maurizio Gucci was raised by actors Rodolfo Gucci and Sandra Ravel. He met Patrizia Reggiani at a party in Milan. Reggiani was a member of the European party circuit during the late 1960s and early 1970s. She was from a wealthy family herself. Maurizio Gucci was infatuated with her and asked his friend who the beautiful girl who was dressed in red and looked like Elizabeth Taylor was. He became captivated by Reggiani despite his father warning him to be careful about her ulterior motives as he had come to know that she was vulgar, ambitious, and a social climber who only had money on her mind. But Maurizio Gucci told his father that he couldn’t leave her as he loved her.
Maurizio and Patrizia were both 24 years of age in 1972 when they married. Their life was very luxurious and included a 200-foot yacht, a penthouse in Manhattan in New York, a farm in the American state of Connecticut, a place in Acapulco, Mexico, and a ski chalet in St. Moritz in Switzerland. They were friends with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had two daughters, and were always driven by a chauffeur.
Maurizio Gucci became confident enough to stand up to his father with Reggiani as his chief adviser. Rodolfo Gucci died in 1983 and left Maurizio a 50 percent stake in the company. It was then that Maurizio Gucci stopped listening entirely to Reggiani and began to plot a complete takeover of the company which ultimately led to conflict in the Gucci family, his divorce from Reggiani, and ultimately his murder. Reggiani later claimed that Maurizio had become crazy after he stopped listening to her about Gucci matters as he wanted to be the best himself.
The end of the Gucci family empire
Maurizio Gucci had attained majority control of the firm but he wanted to incorporate his uncle Aldo’s shares and began an intensive legal effort to do so. His uncle angrily refuted him with litigation that alleged that Maurizio had faked his father’s signature to evade paying an endowment tax. Maurizio was initially found guilty but later was acquitted.
Maurizio’s marriage was affected even more when he restarted his relationship with Paola Franchi who was an acquaintance from his youth party circuit and didn’t challenge his business decisions as Reggiani had done. In 1985, Maurizio Gucci walked out on Reggiani and his marriage entirely, never returning from a business trip he left on. Maurizio began living with Franchi.
He managed to have Investcorp, a Bahrain-based banking firm, buy all the shares of his relatives for $135 million by June 1988. He was made the chairman of the Company the next year and drove the company finances into the ground and left them in the red for two years from 1991 to 1993. In 1993, Maurizio sold his remaining stock of shares to Investcorp for $120 million and lost control over the family brand entirely.
His divorce from Reggiani was formalized the next year. She was to get an annual alimony of $1 million according to the terms of the divorce settlement. However, Reggiani was desperate to not be replaced in Gucci’s life by a younger woman. She later stated that she was angry with Maurizio regarding many things at the turbulent time. But above all, she was angry at his failure to lead the company and losing the family business as she thought it was stupid on his part and she had been filled with rage about it. But there was nothing that she could do at the time.
The death of Maurizio Gucci
At 8.30 AM on March 27, 1995, an unidentified gunman fired three shots into Maurizio Gucci’s back before shooting him once in the head. The doorman Giuseppe Onorato had been sweeping leaves outside Gucci’s office when the attack occurred. Maurizio Gucci collapsed on the steps to the foyer of the building leaving Onorato shocked as he initially thought it was a joke.
But the shooter saw him and fired two shots at Onorato who was hit once in the arm and at the moment thought that he would die in this shameful way. The assassin then dove into a getaway car and escaped while Onorato, though injured, rushed to Maurizio Gucci’s aid. He hoped that he could revive Gucci. But the fashion icon, whose head Onorato was cradling, died in his arms.
The authorities suspected Reggiani of being responsible for the killing as she had made many bizarre statements about her divorce, which had been highly publicized in the media. However, there was no substantial evidence to prove that she was involved. The authorities then followed other leads, expecting blood relatives or shady casino figures to be responsible for the crime.
Two years later, the police got a tip-off from an anonymous caller who spoke to Filippo Ninni, the head of police in Lombardy, and told him that he was at a hotel in Milan, where a porter had boasted about employing Maurizio Gucci’s killer and who had asked for such a hitman.
The murder trial
The conspirators included the porter Ivano Savionia who had boasted the claim, a clairvoyant named Giuseppina Auriemma, the getaway driver Orazio Cicala, and the hitman, Benedetto Ceraulo. The police had wiretapped Regianni’s phone and made her incriminate herself to an undercover officer who posed as a hitman and asked for the payment on the phone. All the suspects were arrested for premeditated murder on January 31, 1997. In Regianni’s diary, police found a one-word entry for March 27, 1995, the date of the murder which was ‘Paradeisos’ or paradise in Greek.
The trial began in 1998 and lasted for five months. The media dubbed Regianni as ‘Vedova Nera’ or the ‘Black Widow’. Regianni’s lawyers claimed that because she had undergone surgery for a brain tumor in 1992, she was not fit to plan the conspiracy. However, Regianni was found fit to stand trial. When she was shown proof in the court of having paid Auriemma $365,000 to find a hitman, Regianni confessed that the effort had been worth every lira that she had paid for.
Franchi stated in court that she thought that Regianni was bothered by the fact that she couldn’t call herself a Gucci anymore. Regianni and Cicala were sentenced to 29 years in prison on November 4, 1998. Savionia was sentenced to 26 years in prison, Auriemma was sentenced to 25 years in prison and Ceraulo was sentenced to life in prison. Regianni was released in 2016 and remains estranged from her daughters.