He called that would make everything change, and it came late
The call came in the evening on January 8, 1997. The anonymous caller demanded to speak with Filippo Ninni (head of police in the Italian region Lombardia) and requested a meeting. The caller refused to speak too much and said, “I’m going only to say Gucci.”
Ninni was one the key detectives in what seemed destined for become another unresolved Italian mystery: The assassination Maurizio Gucci (scion and once head) of the eponymous fashion House.
Gucci was shot to death by an unknown gunman two years prior, in Milan’s Palestro 20. This building is just a few steps from Milan’s fashion district. There were many lines of investigation–Had Gucci been involved in questionable transactions? There was no indication that there had been a split within the family, which is known for its history of internal conflicts.
The informant introduced himself to Ninni and said that he was staying in Milan at a one star hotel. He had heard Gucci’s night porter tell him about recruiting Gucci’s killer. This revelation led authorities on a long and winding road that ultimately revealed a plot to assassinate Gucci’s ex-wife, PatriziaReggiani. (Interview requests for Forbes to Reggiani were unanswered.
Reggiani’s role in the murder would make Elizabeth Taylor look like a scandalous figure in Italy, and the fashion world. Her fame lives on with Reggiani, nicknamed “Lady Gucci”, to be played by Lady Gaga in a Ridley Scott movie about the murder, a cinematic event that was first rumored almost two decades ago by Martin Scorsese. The shocking story had a fairy tale beginning that made it so horrifying.
“For you, hell has yet to come”
Reggiani was and Gucci were both in their 20s when they first met at a party for the Milan elite. According to reports, Reggiani’s beauty struck the grandson of the House of Gucci founder. He asked a friend: “Who is that gorgeous girl in red who looks just like Elizabeth Taylor?”
Gucci and Rodolfo were opposed to their union in 1972. They looked, to quote an Italian song, like the most beautiful couple on the planet. The bliss lasted for just over a decade. The marriage ended in 1985. However, the lengthy legal battle that followed led to the divorce.
In an interview with the TV program Storie Maledette Reggiani stated that Gucci had abruptly left her, leaving for a brief business trip to Florence. He never returned. She said that he was abandoned by his family doctor.
Another TV show, Harem she stated that Rodolfo Guicci’s 1983 death was a crucial moment in their relationship. She said that her husband was changed by the death of Rodolfo Gucci in 1983. He began acting as if he didn’t have to care for anyone or anything. She complained to Storie Maledette about how Gucci refused her support in 1992 when she had a brain tumour surgery.
Gucci was clearly concerned about his family’s business. He had worked in the package rooms since he was 15 years old. After his father’s passing, Gucci inherited a 50% share of the company and became its chairman. He then began consolidating his control. Gucci was involved in several court battles, apparently in an attempt to remove his family members from board. Their stakes would eventually get bought by Bahrain-based investment bank Investcorp. The purchase price is reported at $135 million.
In 1993, Gucci had disposed of his remaining share in the fashion house and sold it to Investcorp. This transaction was worth between $150 million to $200 million. It ended Gucci’s Italian ownership, making Maurizio Gucci a very rich man. Gucci is now part of Kering’s portfolio. Reggiani was also awarded approximately $1 million per year as part of a divorce settlement.
Reggiani, however, was not content. Reggiani was furious at Gucci’s handling of the company’s affairs. She recalls in another interview that he had said to her: “Do you know why your marriage failed?” Because you thought yourself to be the president.
It was also possible that Gucci had found a younger partner in Paola Franchi and they were rumored planning a wedding.
The full extent of Reggiani’s anger was revealed during Reggiani’s eventual trial. A recording of Reggiani’s phone call to Gucci was played in court. Reggiani’s resentment has reached an extreme level, and your daughters no longer want you to forget about the trauma. “You are a deformed result, you are a painful appendix we all want to forget,” Reggiani could be heard uttering, full of anger and emotion. “You are the end of hell.”
“A moment of weakness”
Reggiani was bitter towards her ex-husband. She was also known for looking for a hitman. She asked her cleaner twice to assist her, and even consulted a lawyer about what she would do if her ex-husband was gone. In court, and several interviews, she admitted to this.
“I must admit that I wanted to get rid if him for a while. It was something I wanted and I went around asking people for help. However, my intentions were not fulfilled. Storie Maledette said that I was merely obsessed with the idea and had to ask for help.
Giuseppina Auriemma was the most knowledgeable person about Reggiani’s obsession. She was a confidante to Reggiani ever since they first met in Ischia in 1976. Pina moved in 1994 with Reggiani to write a book on her relationship with Gucci. Pina felt her memory had been affected by brain surgery and needed assistance recalling specific events.
The court battle over what happened next was bitterly contested. The stories of the two women on the assassination and their respective roles in it were fundamentally different. Auriemma, who was struggling with debts, claimed that she succumbed to Reggiani’s request to find a murderer “in a momentof weakness”.
Reggiani claimed that Auriemma was a thief and that she was forced to agree to 600 million lire (equivalent of $365,000) as a ransom for her assassination.
It is undisputed that Auriemma contacted Ivano Savioni (the night porter at the hotel where she stayed when she visited Milan), because she knew of his financial struggles. She asked about hiring a murderer. Savioni and Orazio Cicala then reached an agreement on Gucci’s price tag. They agreed to hire the killer.
The police started investigating Savioni after receiving an anonymous call on January 8, 1997. Once again, the porter was looking for a hitman. The goal of this call was to threaten Reggiani to pay the remaining money and even kill her.
Uncover police officers pretended that they were interested in the job, secretly recording their conversations. Reggiani and Auriemma, Savioni and Cicala were all taken into custody and charged with the murder of Gucci’s muder. Cicala was found to have driven the green Renault Clio, from which Ceraulo would shoot Gucci and also injure the porter of the building Giuseppe Onorato.
Reggiani was convicted of a March 27, 1995 entry in her diary. It contained one word: ” paradeisos.” This is the Greek word for “paradise”. Reggiani later denied that the word meant celebration but she did admit feeling “relief” over her ex-husband’s death. She said that “Paradeisos” was a word she wrote down because she loved it so much she wanted to name her next villa after it.
Although “Lady Gucci”, the media called “Black Widow” “Lady Gucci,” Reggiani has never acknowledged that he ordered the murder. Ceraulo also maintained his innocence. Ceraulo received a life sentence in November 1998. Reggiani, Cicala, and Auriemma were sentenced to 25- and 26 year sentences, respectively. However, all of them were reduced slightly. Italian media reported that Reggiani tried to commit suicide after being transferred from San Vittore (a prison in the center of Milan) to the Opera prison at the outskirts.
Reggiani didn’t completely admit guilt when she reflected on her imprisonment years later. Reggiani said, “I don’t consider myself innocent. I see myself as not guilty.” However, I must admit that I am not guilty of making too many mistakes,” she stated to Storie Maledette in 2002.
Back in fashion
Reggiani started a work release program after 16 years of imprisonment. It required him to have a job and do volunteer work. This allowed Reggiani the opportunity to accept a part-time job at Bozart. According to Maurizio Manca, owner of the company, Reggiani was a stylist, matching jewelry to outfits and overseeing the creation of a bag line.
Manca believes Reggiani was a good job because she got back in touch fashion world.
“We had a pleasant relationship. He said that you could see she was a woman who is used to giving orders. “We have processes in the firm. We clarified this at the beginning and established a good working relationship afterwards.”
Reggiani was there for three years. She shared old memories with her colleagues “at times with regrets, at times, with sorrow, and at times with nostalgia,” Manca says. She would tell stories about her time with the Kennedys and Trumps, and also what she wore then and now.
Manca claims they didn’t anticipate the backlash Reggiani received for hiring them. They hardly believed anyone would be interested in something that occurred nearly two decades ago. Reggiani, who was eventually reinstated as a citizen free of charge in 2017, never completely forgot about her past. She had not stepped out of the spotlight through interviews with the media or her recent actions in court.
Onorato, Gucci’s doorman, and Franchi (Gucci’s lover at the time) now have financial claims against Reggiani. She also struggled to keep her annual Gucci settlement, which she had received through her divorce.
When her daughters–Alessandra, 42 and Allegra, 38–having inherited their father’s money, refused to pay their mother her divorce settlement, the matter ended up in court, where an appeals court found in 2017 that Reggiani was entitled to the annuity. This decision was appealed and the matter is currently due to land at Italy’s Supreme Court.
Reggiani claims that Silvana Barbieri, her mother, had been appointed to manage her finances and was against any payment to Franchi or Onorato. Barbieri, who died in April of this year, was killed. Reggiani said that she will honor the payments. She said that she was turning a new page in November to the Italian TV program. “I want do what is right.”
In a recent interview, she stated that she wished her fame would end, at the very least for her daughters. Last month, when she was asked about Lady Gaga’s portrayal of her on Italian TV program Storie Italiane, she stated that she found out about the incident through media reports and was shocked. “I don’t like it that my daughters relive the father’s story. I have two daughters.”