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Crimes Against Fashion: The Murder Of Maurizio Gucci

Updated: Apr 15

In a tragedy not befitting one synonymous with sartorial splendour, the demise of Maurizio Gucci bore the unmistakable stamp of ignominy. A scion of the illustrious Italian fashion empire, the 46-year-old scion, clad in the finery emblematic of his lineage, embarked on his fateful journey from his Milan abode on March 27, 1995.

Adorned in bespoke attire, he traversed the cobbled pathways en route to his office at 20 Via Palestro. However, amidst the tranquil ambiance of the public gardens, a sinister spectre loomed in the form of a well-dressed stranger, shadowing Gucci's stride with ominous intent.

The tranquil morning was broken by the crack of gunfire, as a 7.65-mm pistol unleashed its lethal payload upon the unsuspecting Gucci. The gunman shot him once in the shoulder and once in the lower back. Gucci spun around, collapsed onto the red marble floor and lay there as the gunman shot him once in the face before fleeing. Witnesses attested to the assailant's swift and deliberate action, as Gucci succumbed to the mortal wounds inflicted upon him, his blood staining the crimson hue of the marble floor.

"It was clearly a premeditated murder," - Italian police Maj. Paolo La Forgia.

Following a rigorous five-month trial, none other than Gucci's former spouse, Patrizia Reggiani, was found to be responsible for the murder, alongside four co-conspirators.

Maurizio Gucci in 1981.

The Birth Of A Brand

The inception of the Gucci empire can be traced back to the visionary acumen of Guccio Gucci in 1921. Having worked as a bellhop at London's Savoy Hotel, Gucci found himself enamoured by the opulent luggage used by affluent patrons, thus igniting the spark of inspiration that would culminate in his embarking on a luggage business.

Guccio Gucci

The business quickly grew, expanding its repertoire to encompass an array of luxury handbags and accessories throughout the 1930s. The brand's ascension reached its zenith with the unveiling of a boutique in Beverly Hills in 1968, marking its foray into the realm of haute couture. It was an epoch defined by sartorial elegance, as luminaries of the silver screen and royalty alike, from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Princess Grace of Monaco, adorned themselves with the emblematic double-G logo, a testament to the brand's unrivalled cachet.

However, the halcyon days of Gucci's ascendancy were not immune to the vicissitudes of familial discord. Over the ensuing decades, internecine strife fractured the familial bond that underpinned the empire, as Guccio's grandsons embarked on divergent paths, seeking to carve out their legacies under the imprimatur of the illustrious name. A maelstrom of familial intrigue unfolded, as rival factions vied for control, casting a shadow over the once-unassailable edifice of the Gucci dynasty.

Amidst the turbulence, a pivotal figure emerged in the form of Maurizio, who seized the reins of the main company in the early 1980s, precipitating a seismic shift in the power dynamics within the Gucci clan. His ascent to the helm, fraught with familial strife and Machiavellian manoeuvring, epitomised the internecine struggles that defined the legacy of the iconic fashion house.

Gucci In The 1980s

Renowned for his penchant for opulence, Maurizio Gucci epitomised a lifestyle defined by extravagance, indulging in a whirlwind of ostentatious acquisitions that spanned the globe. From lavish estates scattered across the world to the acquisition of a wooden yacht once belonging to shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, Maurizio's proclivity for lavish expenditure knew no bounds.

In 1972, Maurizio fell in love, and married Patrizia Reggiani, who according to Luisa Zargani, the Women’s Wear Daily bureau chief in Milan, came from a "humble background"

Despite her humble roots, Reggiani embraced her newfound status with fervour, earning the moniker "Lady Gucci" as she immersed herself in the opulent trappings of the Gucci lifestyle. Draped in sumptuous mink coats, bedecked with resplendent diamonds, she epitomised the epitome of haute couture, traversing the globe amidst the jet-set elite, a living embodiment of the brand's most extravagant manifestations.

Maurizio Gucci and Patrizia Reggiani on their wedding day in 1972

The union between Maurizio and Patrizia bore fruit in the form of two daughters, Alessandra and Allegra, however, the idyllic veneer of domesticity was shattered in 1985 when Maurizio embarked on a purported business trip, but decided to not return home. Instead he took up with a younger woman. The dissolution of their marriage culminated in a divorce settlement, wherein Patrizia purportedly received an annual alimony sum of $500,000.

Meanwhile, the hallowed halls of the Gucci empire resonated with the strains of financial distress. Maurizio, cognisant of the imperilled state of the brand, orchestrated a pivotal move in 1988, facilitating the sale of 47.8 percent of Gucci to the Bahrain-based conglomerate, Investcorp, which boasted ownership of luxury emporium Tiffany. Despite this strategic manoeuvre, the haemorrhage of capital persisted, exacerbated by Maurizio's unrestrained expenditures directed towards the augmentation of Gucci's infrastructure in Florence and Milan.

In a gambit to salvage the fortunes of the beleaguered brand, Maurizio executed a definitive act in 1993, divesting his remaining shares to Investcorp. This transformative transaction precipitated a monumental windfall, endowing Maurizio with a staggering $170 million and, concurrently, severing the ancestral bonds that tethered him to the company forged by his grandfather's vision.

Following Maurizio's untimely demise, an event that reverberated throughout the echelons of Milan's elite society, murmurs of speculation permeated the air. Among the whispers that proliferated within the corridors of high society, conjecture swirled regarding the potential nexus between Maurizio's financial tribulations and the circumstances surrounding his tragic demise.

Towards the end of 1997, the pursuit of Maurizio's assailant appeared to have reached an impasse. However, a pivotal development emerged when Gabriele Carpanese emerged from the shadows, proffering a narrative steeped in envy, wealth, and the sinister spectre of murder.

Roberto Gucci, Georgio Gucci, and Maurizio Gucci attend a store opening in Paris, France, on September 22, 1983.

Carpanese alleged that Reggiani harboured a vendetta against her former spouse, who had once elevated her status within Milanese society, only to subsequently dismantle it during the acrimonious divorce proceedings. For Reggiani, Maurizio's decision to sell the fashion empire served as the ultimate affront to her wounded pride, exacerbating the depths of her resentment and thirst for retribution.

As per Carpanese's account, Reggiani divulged her intentions to the clairvoyant Pina Auriemma, who resided at the humble abode of Hotel Adry, a modest two-star hotel in Milan, where Carpanese himself was situated.

According to his testimony, the two women conspired to execute Maurizio's demise, with Auriemma enlisting the aid of the hotel's porter, Ivano Savioni. Savioni, in turn, recruited a getaway driver, Orazio Cicala, employed as a restaurant manager, alongside a hired assassin by the name of Benedetto Ceraulo, who, it was alleged, operated a debt-laden pizzeria. Carpanese alleged that Reggiani put up $375,000 for the murder to be committed.

The crime scene of Maurizio Gucci’s murder at Via Palestro 20 on March 27, 1995.

During court proceedings, Reggiani conceded to providing monetary compensation to Auriemma but vehemently refuted any involvement in a murder plot. Instead, she maintained that Auriemma orchestrated the scheme autonomously and resorted to coercion, threatening to implicate Reggiani unless she complied with her demands for payment.

Regardless of the circumstances, the motley crew of conspirators felt aggrieved by what they perceived as Reggiani's callous indifference following Maurizio's demise, as she swiftly resumed her lavish lifestyle as Lady Gucci. Feeling shortchanged, they sought further compensation from her, but were met with refusal. An embittered Savioni vented his frustrations to Carpanese, who subsequently took matters into his own hands by informing the authorities.

Upon learning of Carpanese's proposal to enlist the services of a Medellín drug cartel enforcer to exert pressure on Reggiani for additional funds, the gang eagerly seized the opportunity.

However, a significant obstacle emerged: the purported enforcer turned out to be an undercover police officer, surreptitiously capturing their incriminating admissions.

Subsequently, all five collaborators found themselves under arrest. Yet, it was Lady Gucci, now christened the Black Widow by Italian media outlets, who garnered the most attention as she made a grand entrance at the police headquarters. Adorned in a luxurious floor-length mink coat and bedecked with shimmering diamonds, she captivated onlookers as police escorted her from her residence to the station.

Patrizia Reggiani

Following the judicial proceedings, all parties were convicted. Reggiani and Cicala received identical sentences of 29 years in prison each, while the hired assassin, Ceraulo, faced a life behind bars. Auriemma was handed a 24-year sentence, with Savioni receiving a slightly longer term of 26 years.

Reggiani spent a total of 16 years behind bars. According to Buongiorno, her lawyer, her early release in 2014 was attributed to "good conduct" and health considerations. It seems that remorse played no part in the decision.



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