In 1972, Patrizia Reggiani married Maurizio Gucci and joined a world of fashion royalty. Two decades later, she hired a hitman to kill the magnate outside of his Milan office.
When Patrizia Reggiani married Maurizio Gucci, it seemed like a match made in heaven. She was a wealthy, young socialite who resembled Elizabeth Taylor. He was the heir to a fashion empire, the likes of which Italy had never seen. Their marriage not only crumbled in divorce, however, but saw a jilted Reggiani order her husband’s murder.
Maurizio Gucci was gunned down in the foyer of his office building on March 27, 1995. Despite denying any involvement in the assassination at her 1997 trial, Reggiani had been after her husband’s money — and the Gucci name itself. Even Maurizio’s father thought her “a social climber who has nothing in mind but money.”
As dramatized in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, Patrizia Reggiani took desperate measures to not be ousted from that dynasty entirely.
Terrified of being replaced by a younger woman and losing her status in the process, the furious divorcé hired a hitman to murder her ex-husband — only to forge a legacy she seems to regret.
The Fabulous Life Of Patrizia Reggiani
Born on December 2, 1948, in Vignola, Emilia-Romagna, outside of Milan, Patrizia Reggiani had always lived lavishly. While her mother had once been a waitress, her father made a fortune in the trucking business. Reggiani ran in elite circles and attended all the parties, inevitably meeting a young Maurizio Gucci at one.
He was the grandson of Guccio Gucci, who founded the eponymous company in Florence in 1921. Guccio’s son Aldo helped curate that company into a trendy line of handbags, suits, and designer dresses — which made more than $11 billion in sales in 2019 alone.
Seemingly in love, Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci married in 1972. The two 24-year-olds became the premier Italian power couple overnight. They were plastered across magazines and at all the exclusive events. The working class wanted to be them, while the elite appreciated their company.
From social events with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to leisure time on their 209-foot yacht, the Creole, nothing was off-limits. They had a luxury penthouse in Manhattan’s Olympic Tower, a ski chalet in Saint Moritz, a farm in Connecticut, and a house in Acapulco. Their chauffeured car had “Mauizia” plates, a play on their names.
Reggiani gave birth to daughters Alessandra and Allegra and served as Maurizio’s personal adviser, but he stopped listening to her when his father Rodolfo died in 1983. He had inherited a 50-percent stake in the company and was trying to salvage the brand — which had diluted itself by licensing the logo with abandon.
Reggiani was frustrated. Her husband was either working at his office on Via Palestro 20 or secretly spending time with an old flame, Paolo Franchi. He managed to buy his cousins and uncle out of the other half of the company in 1992, only to run the business into the ground — and sell it to a Bahrain-based conglomerate in 1993.
“I was angry with Maurizio about many, many things at that time,” she said. “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. He shouldn’t have done that to me.”
The Murder Of Maurizio Gucci
With their relationship on the rocks, Maurizio Gucci packed a bag one night and left his wife for good. In 1994, they divorced. Despite Patrizia Reggiani receiving annual alimony of $1.5 million, Franchi feared she might take drastic measures and begged Maurizio to get a bodyguard. He sadly found it laughable that he might be in danger.
“Patrizia was stalking us,” said Franchi. “She still had spies in Maurizio’s circle, and she knew all about our plans, our business dealings, everything. She called many times, abusing him and threatening to kill him … He didn’t believe Patrizia would go through with her threat because of their girls.”
Maurizio stopped taking Reggiani’s calls entirely, at which point she began sending him tape recordings in the mail. She would insult him as a “monster” and warned him “the inferno for you is yet to come.” There was only one word in Reggiani’s diary on the day of her husband’s death: “Paradeisos,” or “paradise” in Greek.
It was 8:30 a.m. on March 27, 1995, when Maurizio Gucci arrived at his office building. Doorman Giuseppe Onorato was sweeping up leaves in the foyer.
“It was a lovely spring morning, very quiet,” said Onorato. “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.”
The shooter fired four bullets at Maurizio, hitting him thrice in the back and once in the head. He then fired two at Onorato and hit him once in the arm before diving into a getaway car. Onorato cradled Gucci’s head as the 46-year-old died. While Patrizia Reggiani was a suspect, it took two years for police to find enough evidence.
Patrizia Reggiani Goes To Prison
The truth came spilling out in 1997 when one of Patrizia Reggiani’s accomplices bragged about the murder and his co-conspirators to the wrong person, who contacted the police. Authorities wiretapped their phones and caught them chatting about the hit, leading to the arrest of four people and a highly-publicized trial in 1998.
While she denied it in court, Reggiani had paid her friend Giuseppina Auriemma $365,000 to find a hitman. The clairvoyant had asked hotel porter Ivano Savioni to hire Benedetto Ceraulo as the shooter and Orazio Cicala as the driver. Auriemma claimed Reggiani wanted it done quickly before Maurizio Gucci could marry Franchi.
Reggiani slipped up during cross-examination and admitted to the exorbitant payment, but then claimed she only paid Auriemma because the clairvoyant was blackmailing her — and would frame Reggiani as a co-conspirator if she didn’t pay Auriemma. Aware she had been caught, Reggiani said: “It was worth every lira.”
Dubbed “Vedova Nera” (or the “Black Widow”) in the press, Patrizia Reggiani was sentenced to 29 years in prison on November 4, 1998. Cicala received the same sentence, while Savioni was given 26 years, Auriemma 25 years, and shooter Ceraulo was sentenced to life. In prison, Patrizia Reggiani kept a pet ferret named Bambi.
She was eligible for paroled release in 2011, but refused as one of the conditions was finding a job. She stated: “I’ve never worked in my life and I don’t intend to start now.” Ultimately, she changed her mind. Released in April 2014, she found work at a jewelry store named Bozart.
It was here that a camera crew found Patrizia Reggiani and asked why she had hired a hitman.
“My eyesight is not so good,” she responded. “I didn’t want to miss.”
After learning about Patrizia Reggiani, read about the deadliest mafia hitmen in history or Ann Lowe, the Black designer behind Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress.