The recently released trailer for Ridley Scott’s Oscar-hopeful film House of Gucci has taken the Internet by storm. Not surprisingly, this film follows a tale of opulence, loyalty, pride, and murder which captivated Italy in the last 90s. Maurizio Gucci was assassinated on the steps of Via Palestro 20 in Milan, and his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani was tried and convicted for plotting his murder, and sentenced to 29 years in prison.
A media frenzy followed and Reggiani (rather misogynistically) was dubbed the Vedova Nera, or the Black Widow. She was painted as the spiteful ex-wife who plotted her ex-husband’s murder in a fit of jealous rage. She maintained her innocence. But who was this couple embroiled in this scandal?
The Gucci Heir and ‘Liz Taylor of Luxury Labels’
Maurizio Gucci was born in 1948 in Florence to Italian actors Rodolfo Gucci and Sandra Ravel. He was the grandson of the designer Guccio Gucci, and after Rodolfo’s death acquired his ownership of the business. Patrizia Reggiani was also born in 1948 in Milan. She was known as the ‘Liz Taylor of luxury labels’ in the 1980s. The duo met during a party and tied the knot in 1973.
When Reggiani became part of the Gucci empire, she became the chief advisor for the company. After Maurizio took over Rodolfo’s shares (after his death in 1983), he started a legal case to take over his uncle Aldo Gucci’s shares as well. He fought with his family for years until he bought them out with Investcorp.
"“Maurizio got crazy. Until then I was his chief adviser about all Gucci matters. But he wanted to be the best, and he stopped listening to me."" - Patrizia Reggiani to The Guardian
The Gucci brand started to incur losses under his leadership and he was soon forced to sell the company entirely to Investcorp in 1993. A few years ago, in 1985, Maurizio left for a ‘business trip’ and didn’t return. He reportedly went to live with his girlfriend Paola Franchi, interior designer turned artist.
“I was angry with Maurizio about many, many things at that time. 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,” Reggiani said. “He shouldn’t have done that to me.”
Maurizio Gucci’s Assassination
Giuseppe Onorato, the only direct witness, recalls that 27 March, 1955 was a ‘lovely spring morning’. Then working as the doorman at the Via Palestro 20, he was also shot twice in the arm but survived. He recounted to The Guardian, “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.”
Three shots were fired at Maurizio’s back and the fourth found his head. Reggiani was the first suspect but it wasn’t until 31 January 1997 that she was arrested (after a tip off), and then convicted a year later.
Lady Gucci’s Trial and Release
Reggiani’s former friend, and psychic, Pina Auriemma said in court that she had hired a hitman on Reggiani’s request. Three other accomplices emerged—Pina’s friend who set up the hitman, the hitman, and the getaway driver.
Patrizia ‘Lady Gucci’ Reggiani was convicted of plotting the murder. She maintained her innocence and even her daughters Alessandra and Allegra claimed that an earlier brain tumour might’ve caused her behaviour. Reggiani also accused her friend Pina of arranging for the hitman herself and framing her.
She was released in 2014 on the condition that she had to get a job (she had reportedly refused an earlier 2011 release because of the condition) and she started working at the Milan jewellery firm Bozart.
In 2014, a reporter caught Patrizia Reggiani and asked her, “Patrizia, why did you hire a hitman to kill Maurizio Gucci? Why didn’t you shoot him yourself?”
"My eyesight is not so good. I didn't want to miss,” she responded. Alessandro Brunero, co-owner of Bozart, told The Guardian, “Naturally, Patrizia was only joking…”
Scott Ridley’s House of Gucci
Lady Gaga and Adam Driver play the Gucci couple in Scott Ridley’s upcoming crime drama House of Gucci. Gaga, as Patrizia, says in the film, “Father, Son, and House of Gucci.” Patrizia’s reverence of the Gucci dynasty has never been in question. She once told La Repubblica, “I still feel like a Gucci – in fact, the most Gucci of them all."
The film also stars Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, and Jeremy Irons, and is scheduled for a theatrical release on 24 November.
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