The murder of Maurizio Gucci, and subsequent conviction of his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani, for the crime, captivated not only Italy, but the world. It’s easy to see why: The story involves greed, excess, family rivalries, jealousy, and revenge.
The outspoken and unapologetic Reggiani, despite being a convicted killer, continues to make headlines, whether it’s for a public outing with her jewels and pet parrot, or for complaining about having to shop at Zara post-prison. The tale has also gained renewed interest due to the 2021 film House of Gucci, which stars Adam Driver and Lady Gaga as the former spouses whose story ended in tragedy. And while the film version may be riveting, this is one case where the true story might be even wilder.
Rodolfo Gucci Didn't Approve Of His Son's Marriage To Patrizia Reggiani
Maurizio Gucci’s father, Rodolfo Gucci (pictured), didn’t approve of his son’s girlfriend. Based on gossip about the flashy, loud socialite, Rodolfo believed Patrizia Reggiani was “a social climber who has nothing in mind but money.” Rodolfo was protective of his only son and heir, especially because Maurizio’s mother had passed when he was a child. He vowed to disinherit his son if he continued dating Reggiani. But Maurizio was smitten. Ignoring his father’s warnings, the 22-year-old left home to be with Reggiani.
Maurizio and Rodolfo didn’t speak during this time period. Maurizio and Reggiani were married two years later, in 1972, despite Rodolfo’s attempts to persuade the Cardinal of Milan to stop the nuptials. Rodolfo eventually relented and reconciled with the couple after the birth of their first daughter, Alessandra, in 1976. He even gifted them a luxury penthouse in New York City.
The Couple Lived An Over-The-Top Life Of Luxury
As a married couple, Maurizio and Reggiani had a lifestyle that was anything but subtle. They were prominent members of New York’s social scene, spending time with Jackie Onassis and the Kennedy family and throwing extravagant theme parties. Their chauffeured car could be easily spotted around Manhattan - it had a vanity plate that read “Mauizia,” a hybrid of their first names.
Another favorite mode of transportation was the sailing yacht Maurizio purchased two years after the birth of their second daughter, Allegra, which the couple would take on their jaunts to private islands. Other vacation homes included a farm in Connecticut, a ski chalet in St. Moritz, and a holiday house in Acapulco.
Remembering the good old days in an interview with The Guardian, Reggiani said, “We were a beautiful couple and we had a beautiful life, of course... It still hurts to think about this.”
After His Father's Death, Maurizio Owned 50% Of The Gucci Company
After his marriage to Reggiani, Maurizio went to work at Gucci in New York alongside his uncle, Aldo Gucci. During this time, Reggiani was reportedly very involved in her husband’s business dealings, and heavily influenced the more timid Maurizio in day-to-day life. According to House of Gucci screenwriter Roberto Bentivegna:
[Patrizia] famously said that he was like a chair that takes the shape of whoever sits on it... So, she, as an incredibly sharp and cynical manipulator, knew that she had putty in her hands, that she could really mold and play with, but I think it came out of a place of love.
According to Reggiani, though, the couple’s life of luxurious bliss neared an end around 1983, after the passing of Maurizio’s father, Rodolfo Gucci. Maurizio inherited his 50% stake in the company. But along with the keys to the kingdom, the Gucci heir also inherited a laundry list of company problems. Once only adorning the elite, the Gucci logo was everywhere - mass production had marred the brand’s uniqueness. This, along with a long history of company infighting, had left Gucci deep in debt.
With the company’s fate falling on his shoulders, Maurizio aimed to take the luxury brand back to its earlier high status. As Reggiani put it, “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.”
Even her father-in-law, Rodolfo Gucci, had once warned her, “Once he gets money and power, he will change. You will find you are married to another man.”
In 1985, Maurizio Left For A Business Trip And Never Returned Home
The pressure facing Maurizio and the Gucci company started to infiltrate his marriage in the '80s. His larger role left less time for family matters, and despite her nickname of “Lady Gucci,” Reggiani found herself left out in the cold. She remembered:
He stopped coming home for lunch... He gained weight and dressed badly... Maurizio stopped telling me things, his tone grew detached. We spoke less. We grew cold and impassive with each other.
But others recall that it was Reggiani who smothered her already stressed husband and created more problems instead of solutions. According to Domenico De Sole, the CEO of Gucci America at the time, in Sara Gay Forden's book House of Gucci:
She set him up against his uncle, his cousins, or anybody else she didn’t feel was treating him properly... At Gucci events, she would say things like, “I didn’t get offered champagne first, that means they don’t respect you!”
The marriage was in deep enough trouble that Maurizio fled, essentially ghosting his own wife. In May 1985 he left the family home in Milan for a business trip to Florence and never returned home. He sent a proxy to inform Reggiani that the marriage was over, though he wanted Reggiani to continue to attend events with him to keep up appearances. Though Reggiani reportedly had hopes of salvaging the marriage, Gucci eventually ended up rekindling a relationship with a former flame, Paola Franchi.
Gucci and Reggiani weren’t officially divorced until 1994, though he’d already been living with Franchi for three years at the time. Reggiani received a divorce settlement worth 2.5 million euros and 650,000 euros a year in alimony, which she famously described as “a mere bowl of lentils.” The real sore spot, though, was reportedly her loss of the Gucci last name. In an interview with La Repubblica, she later stated, “I still feel like a Gucci - in fact, the most Gucci of them all.”
Maurizio Gucci Was Gunned Down On The Front Steps Of His Office In 1995
On the morning of March 27, 1995, Maurizio was going up the steps of his office building in Milan. Former doorman Giuseppe Onorato remembered, “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 was shot three times in the back before receiving a final shot to his head. Onorato recalled, “I thought it was a joke. 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 gunman fired two shots into Onorato’s arm before fleeing into a getaway car. Though Onorato somehow made it up the foyer to Gucci, the doorman said Maurizio passed in his arms.
Reggiani Had Made Her Anger Toward Her Ex-Husband Known
Investigators intially suspected Maurizio's slaying was somehow related to his business dealings. But his ex-wife had made her feelings toward her former spouse clear over the years. According to Sara Gay Forden's book House of Gucci, Reggiani told her housekeeper, “If it’s the last thing I do, I want to see him dead... Why don’t you ask your boyfriend if he can’t find somebody to help me out?”
Reggiani had reportedly also asked her divorce lawyer about having Maurizio eliminated, and requested that the caretaker of their shared Switzerland estate place gasoline tanks by the house, saying she’d finish the job.
Maurizio was no stranger to Reggiani’s wrath. On numerous occasions, she sent him cassette tapes recorded with her angry rants. When he didn’t visit her after she had brain surgery, Reggiani’s recorded message was:
Maurizio, I am not going to give you a minute of peace... You are a painful appendage that we all want to forget... the inferno for you is yet to come.
The same afternoon on the day Maurizio was killed, Reggiani had his longtime girlfriend, Paola Franchi, and her young son evicted from the apartment they’d shared with him. Reggiani had already filed a legal claim to the property earlier that morning, a few hours after the murder.
She did attend Maurizio's funeral, wearing giant sunglasses and a black veil, though she wasn’t exactly in mourning. She told reporters, “On a human level, I am sorry. On a personal level, I can’t say the same thing.”