The photos from the film set are chic: Lady Gaga in a vintage Gucci-check trench clinging to a turtleneck-clad Adam Driver as he coolly steers a scooter near the Lake Como coast. Other shots show the actors kissing in a canoe, sporting stylish ski attire and beaming on the wedding day of their characters, Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci.
Still, not everyone in the real-life Gucci family is thrilled to see their history play out on the big screen.
âThey are stealing the identity of a family to make a profit, to increase the income of the Hollywood system,â Patrizia Gucciâs, Maurizioâs cousin, complained to Associated Press of director Ridley Scott and his collaborators. She is particularly piqued at Al Pacino playing her grandfather Aldo, a son of the fashion houseâs founder, Guccio. She claimed that âHouse of Gucciâ â scheduled to hit theaters in November and based on Sara Fordenâs 2000 “The House of Gucciâ â portrays her grandfather as âfat, short, with sideburns, really ugly. Shameful â¦ â
But nothing is as ugly and shameful as the real story behind the film.
On March 27, 1995, Maurizio Gucci was looking forward to wedding his girlfriend of four years, Paola Franchi, a pretty artist with whom he shared a luxurious apartment on Milanâs exclusive Corso Venezia.
Dressed in a designer suit and a camel coat, Maurizio walked to his office and nodded to a doorman. Then the first bullet hit him in the back.
Another silenced bullet struck Maurizioâs below the waist. A third glanced his arm. He fell to the ground and took the coup de grÃ¢ce: a fatal slug to the skull by an unseen shooter.
The doorman had been shot in the arm and sat, dazed, on a step as police sirens echoed through the posh neighborhood. The killer, meanwhile, negotiated a clean exit and got away scot-free.
âNever before do I remember a murder like that, right in the center of Milan,â Maurizio Manca, owner of the cityâs Bozart Jewelry, told The Post. âIt would be like seeing the president of Tiffany killed in front of his store on Fifth Avenue.â
Guccio Gucci launched his luggage company in Florence in 1921. He had worked as a bellhop at Londonâs Savoy Hotel and been inspired by the elegant suitcases of affluent travelers. The brand expanded to handbags and other accessories in the â30s and started making clothing with the 1968 opening of its Beverly Hills boutique. By then, the double-G logo counted Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Princess Grace of Monaco as fans.
But over the next two decades, family drama fractured the business, as two of Guccioâs grandsons attempted to launch spinoff brands capitalizing on the famous name. A third, Maurizio, gained control of the main company in the early â80s after wresting it away from his uncle Aldo.
Maurizio was known for his extravagant spending â buying homes around the world and a wooden yacht once owned by shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos.âMaurizio was not a businessman; he was a playboy,â Karen Homer, author of âLittle Book of Gucci,â told The Post.
In 1972, he married Patrizia Reggiani, who came from a âhumble background,â according to Luisa Zargani, the Womenâs Wear Daily bureau chief in Milan.
Reggiani loved spending just as much as Maurizio did. Known as âLady Gucci,â she lustily embraced her new life and personified the brand at its most outrÃ©: swanning around in mink coats, dripping with diamonds, traveling with the jet-set.
âShe loved jewelry and big furs. You could call her a social climber,â said Zargani. âShe attended the big parties but was not sophisticated or refined. It was all about appearances.â
The couple had two daughters, Alessandra and Allegra. But in 1985, Maurizio went on a business trip â and never came home. He had left Reggiani for a younger woman. His ex reportedly received $500,000 in alimony a year as part of the divorce settlement.
But the Gucci brand was in financial trouble. Maurizio arranged in 1988 to sell 47.8 percent of it to the Bahrain-based Investcorp, which also owned Tiffany. Even that wasnât enough to stem the outflow of money, especially as Maurizio continued to spend freely on Gucci headquarters in Florence and Milan.
In 1993, Maurizio sold the remaining shares to Investcorp â netting himself a windfall of $170 million and severing family ties with the company his grandfather founded.
After Maurizioâs assassination, which was the talk of Milan high society, people wondered if maybe his financial woes had something to do with his death.
âThere were thoughts that he had borrowed money from the wrong people,â said Zargani. âThey thought that maybe it was a vendetta.â
By 1997, the search for Maurizioâs killer had hit a dead end. Then a man named Gabriele Carpanese reached out to detectives â and unspooled a tale of jealousy, money and murder.
He claimed that Reggiani wanted revenge on her ex, the man who had built her up in Milan society and then broke her down through the course of their divorce. Maurizio selling the fashion company added insult to her injured ego.
âShe was livid when he sold out to Investcorp,â author Homer told The Post. Even as his ex, âit took her crown away. She was not the Gucci Princess anymore.â
Reggiani did little to hide the feelings she had for Maurizio. According to âThe House of Gucci,â she told her maid: âIf itâs the last thing I do, I want to see him dead.â She expressed similar sentiments to an attorney and even blamed her ex for a brain tumor sheâd been diagnosed with, which caused crippling headaches and left her plagued by seizures. She allegedly asked a butcher about killing Maurizio.
According to Carpanese, Reggiani had confided in psychic Pina Auriemma, who was staying at Hotel Adry, the two-star Milan pensione where Carpanese lived.
He claimed the women planned to kill Maurizio and that Auriemma enlisted the help of the buildingâs porter, Ivano Savioni, who, in turn, brought aboard a getaway driver (Orazio Cicala, a restaurant manager) and a hitman â debt-riddled pizzeria owner Benedetto Ceraulo. According to âThe House of Gucci,â Carpanese alleged that Reggiani put up $375,000 for the murder to be committed.
In court, Reggiani later admitted to paying Auriemma the money but insisted that it was not for murder; she claimed that Auriemma planned the hit independently and threatened to frame Reggiani if she didnât pay. Then, Reggiani contradictorily added: âIt was worth every lira.â
Whatever the case, the ragtag gang felt shortchanged as Reggiani resumed living the life of Lady Gucci after the murder. They asked for more money and she refused. A disgruntled Savioni groused to Carpanese, who then went to the cops.
When Carpanese offered to introduce them to a MedellÃn drug cartel enforcer who could apply pressure to Reggiani about extra money, the gang jumped at the chance.
But there was just one problem: the enforcer was really an undercover cop and secretly recording their confessions.
All five collaborators were arrested. But Lady Gucci â now dubbed Black Widow by the Italian dailies â made the biggest splash at police headquarters. According to âThe House of Gucci,â she wore a floor-length mink and glittering diamonds as police escorted her from her home.
All were found guilty. Reggiani and Cicala were sentenced to 29 years in prison each, while hitman Ceraulo was hit with a life sentence. Auriemma got 24 years and Savioni received 26.
Although Reggiani was allowed to keep a pet ferret behind bars, according to her attorney Danilo Buongiorno, âShe could not bring her things inside … [no] diamonds and clothing in prison.â
Reggiani served 16 years of her term. Buongiorno attributes the early release in 2014 to âgood conductâ and health reasons. Remorse, apparently, had nothing to do with it.
When a TV crew asked Reggiani why she hired a hit man instead of killing Maurizio herself, the feisty Black Widow replied: âMy eyesight is not so good. I didnât want to miss.â
During more serious moments, she has consistently professed her innocence, maintaining that the psychic set her up. She even told Buongiorno, âIâm not guilty, but Iâm not innocent.â
Buongiorno told The Post: âShe thought she had made some mistakes in her life. But she always said she did not kill her husband … She always said she did not pay anyone to commit the murder.â
Post prison, Reggiani went to work for Bozart Jewelry as a design consultant.
âShe was like a queen before she entered jail and she was like a queen when she came out,â Bozart Jewelry owner Manca said of Reggiani, who had taken to walking through Milan with a pet macaw on her shoulder. âWhen we met [in 2014], it was like a flashback to the â80s.â
Reggiani left Bozart in 2017 and Manca has fallen out of touch with his former employee. âShe lives in Milan, in her motherâs house and does not work anymore,â he said of the woman who is now 72 years old. âI miss her a little bit.â
Reggiani told the Guardian that she is estranged from Alessandra and Allegra, both now married. In 2017 an Italian court ruled that Reggiani is entitled to some $1 million per year, which Maurizio agreed to provide her in 1993, from his estate.
âShe lost everything when she had her husband killed,â Womenâs Wear Dailyâs Zargani said. âShe did everything she could to be part of the jet-set world, and through the killing of her husband, she lost that.â
Still, after her release from prison, Reggiani had the nerve to say she should be hired by the Gucci brand.
âThey need me,â she told La Republica. âI still feel like a Gucci â in fact, the most Gucci of them all.â
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