The Murder Of Maurizio Gucci
Updated: Sep 26
At first glance, Maurizio Gucci appeared to have it all as a scion of the renowned Italian fashion dynasty. He grew up in opulence, destined to assume control of the globally celebrated brand and wed a spirited socialite.
This ambitious heir would ultimately not only relinquish control of the company but also fall victim to a murder plot orchestrated by his own wife, Patrizia Reggiani.
Maurizio Gucci was born on September 26, 1948, in Florence, Italy, the birthplace of the designer brand established by his grandfather, Guccio Guccio, in 1921. During his uncle Aldo's stewardship in the postwar era, Gucci became a favored choice among Hollywood celebrities and even graced the wardrobe of John F. Kennedy.
Under the influence of Patrizia Reggiani, he embarked on a journey to ascend to the position of chairman. However, this ascent was tragically cut short when he met his demise on March 27, 1995, in a shocking act of violence.
“It was a lovely spring morning, very quiet,” said Giuseppe Onorato, the doorman of Maurizio Gucci’s private office at Via Palestro 20. “Mr. Gucci arrived carrying some magazines and said good morning. Then I saw a hand. It was a beautiful, clean hand, and it was pointing a gun.”
Maurizio Gucci was shot four times at 8:30 a.m. and died on the steps of his own office building at 46 years old. This is his story.
The Early Life Of Maurizio Gucci
Raised by thespians Rodolfo Gucci and Sandra Ravel, Maurizio Gucci crossed paths with Patrizia Reggiani at a Milan gathering. As a prominent figure in the European social scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, she also hailed from a well-to-do background. Maurizio Gucci was so enamored that he couldn't resist seeking more information about her.
“Who is that beautiful girl dressed in red who looks like Elizabeth Taylor?” Gucci asked his friend.
Despite his father’s warnings, Gucci became enamoured. Rodolfo Gucci pleaded with him to be careful about her potential ulterior motives, and said he had inquired about Reggiani and was told she was vulgar, ambitious, and “a social climber who has nothing in mind but money.”
“Papá,” replied Gucci, “I can’t leave her. I love her.”
In 1972, at the age of 24, they exchanged vows, entering a life of unimaginable opulence. Their existence included a 200-foot yacht, a Manhattan penthouse, a Connecticut estate, a residence in Acapulco, and a ski chalet in St. Moritz. Their social circle extended to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and they were blessed with two daughters — all while maintaining the presence of a personal chauffeur.
Under the guidance of Patrizia Reggiani, Maurizio Gucci gained the confidence to assert himself even against his father's wishes. However, when Rodolfo passed away in 1983, bequeathing Maurizio a 50-percent share in the company, he distanced himself entirely from Reggiani. He embarked on a strategic plan for complete control, which ultimately led to familial discord, divorce, and a tragic act of violence.
“Maurizio got crazy,” said Reggiani. “Until then I was his chief adviser about all Gucci matters. But he wanted to be the best, and he stopped listening to me.”
The End Of A Family Empire
Now with majority control of the company, Maurizio Gucci aimed to acquire his uncle Aldo's shares and initiated a legal endeavour to achieve this goal. His infuriated uncle retaliated with a lawsuit, alleging that Gucci had forged Rodolfo's signature to evade an inheritance tax payment. Gucci faced an initial guilty verdict but was later acquitted of the charges.
At the same time, his marriage faced further decline as Gucci rekindled a romance with Paola Franchi, a past love from his earlier social adventures. Unlike Reggiani, she didn't challenge his business choices. In 1985, he suddenly departed from his wife, setting off on a business trip from which he never came back.
Gucci began living with Franchi. He even managed to have Bahrain-based banking firm Investcorp buy all of his relatives’ shares for $135 million by June 1988. The following year, he was made chairman of Gucci. Unfortunately, he ran the company’s finances into the ground and left them in the red from 1991 to 1993.
In 1993, he sold his remaining stock for $120 million to Investcorp and lost his reins over the family dynasty entirely. While his divorce was finalized the following year and Reggiani would receive an annual $1 million alimony, she was desperate not to be replaced by a younger woman.
“I was angry with Maurizio about many, many things at that time,” said Reggiani. “But above all, this. Losing the family business. It was stupid. It was a failure. I was filled with rage, but there was nothing I could do.”
Maurizio Gucci’s Death
At precisely 8:30 a.m. on March 27, 1995, an unknown assailant discharged three rounds into Maurizio Gucci's back and then delivered a fatal shot to his head while he stood on the steps of the Gucci office in Milan. Giuseppe Onorato, the building's doorman, had been in the midst of sweeping up fallen leaves. Gucci crumpled on the entrance steps, leaving Onorato in a state of shock and disbelief.
“I thought it was a joke,” said Onorato. “Then the shooter saw me. He lifted the gun again and fired two more times. ‘What a shame,’ I thought. ‘This is how I die.'”
The assassin fired two more shots before diving into a getaway car, hitting Onorato once in the arm. The wounded doorman rushed to Gucci in hopes he could help, but it was futile. The former fashion icon was dead.
“I was cradling Mr. Gucci’s head,” said Onorato. “He died in my arms.”
Authorities harboured suspicions regarding Reggiani, primarily stemming from the extravagant remarks she had made during her widely publicized divorce. However, there existed no concrete evidence implicating her in the crime. Consequently, law enforcement pursued alternative leads, presuming that either close relatives or individuals associated with the dubious casino industry might be responsible. It wasn't until two years later that the police finally made a remarkable breakthrough.
On January 8, 1997, Filippo Ninni received an anonymous call. As head of police in Lombardia, he asked what it was about. The voice replied simply, “I’m going to say just one name: Gucci.” The informant said he was at a Milan hotel where a porter bragged about hiring Maurizio Gucci’s killer — and whom he had found him for.
The Gucci Murder Trial
Along with porter Ivano Savionia, the co-conspirators included a clairvoyant named Giuseppina Auriemma, getaway driver Orazio Cicala, and hitman Benedetto Ceraulo. Police wiretapped Regianni’s phone and got her to incriminate herself to an undercover cop posing as a hitman asking for payment on the phone.
All four suspects were arrested for premeditated murder on January 31, 1997. Reggiani’s Cartier journal even yielded a one-word entry for March 27 which read “Paradeisos,” or paradise in Greek. The trial began in 1998 and would last five months, with the press dubbing Reggiani “Vedova Nera” (or the Black Widow).
Patrizia Reggiani’s lawyers claimed that the brain tumour surgery she underwent in 1992 would’ve rendered her unable to plan the hit, but she was found competent to stand trial. Confronted in court with evidence that she had paid Auriemma $365,000 to find a hitman to kill Maurizio Gucci, Regianni stated: “It was worth every lira.”
“I think that Patrizia was bothered above all that she couldn’t call herself a Gucci anymore,” said Franchi on the stand.
Reggiani and Cicala were sentenced to 29 years on November 4, 1998. Savioni was given 26 years, Auriemma 25, and Ceraulo to a life term. Reggiani was released in 2014 and remains estranged from her daughters.