This was one of the most notorious murders in Italian history — a bloody hit arranged by a spurned spouse, all set to the background of glamour, wealth and high fashion.
Now, a quarter of a century on, the story of Maurizio Gucci’s brutal death is set to become the box office hit of the year.
Directed by Ridley Scott, House Of Gucci features a stellar Hollywood line-up headed by Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani, the plotting, jealous wife who enlisted a hitman to kill her Gucci heir husband.
Adam Driver, Al Pacino and Salma Hayek also feature in a tale that lifts the lid on the feuding fashion dynasty.
Scorned by her Gucci heir husband, she sent a hitman to his door, caused a global sensation and inspired a major new movie starring Lady Gaga. But none of that’s as bizarre as what happened next…
Photos of the cast on set have added to the hype — which this week rose a notch higher with a Lady Gaga interview in Vogue for which she posed naked, sporting a bouffant hairstyle in homage to Patrizia.
Dubbed the Black Widow by the Italian Press, in 1998 Patrizia’s trial captivated and horrified a nation. Now it is set to captivate cinema audiences across the globe.
Here, the Mail looks at the film’s main characters — and reveals the very surprising stories of where they are and what they are up to today . . .
Maurizio Gucci: The Victim
On first setting eyes on his future bride Patrizia Reggiani at a party in Milan, Maurizio Gucci was spellbound. ‘Who is that beautiful girl dressed in red who looks like Elizabeth Taylor?’ he asked. Maurizio’s father Rodolfo, the son of Gucci fashion house founder Guccio Gucci, was less impressed.
Believing her to be a gold-digger, he cut off his son’s funds.
Having married in 1972, the glamorous couple had two daughters, Alessandra and Allegra, with Maurizio spending much of his time working in New York alongside his uncle, Aldo, as they attempted to break into the U.S. market.
In 1983, he inherited his father’s 50 per cent stake in the firm. But under his leadership it struggled.
Maurizio and Patrizia
The acid-tongued Patrizia, from whom he split in 1985, was quick to apportion blame. Criticising his lack of business acumen and reliance on advisers, she said: ‘My husband was like a pillow — he carried the imprint of the last one who sat on it.’
Family shares in the company were sold to Investcorp, a Bahrain-based investment firm, with Maurizio offloading his remaining stake in 1993 for an estimated $170 million (£112 million).
After leaving the business, he kept a relatively low profile, spending time on his yacht and with his new girlfriend, model Paola Franchi.
Then, at 8.30am on March 27, 1995, as Maurizio entered his office in Milan, he was shot three times in the back by a waiting gunman. As he collapsed on to the red marble floor, the coup de grace was delivered with a final bullet to the 46-year-old’s head.
In the movie, Maurizio is played by Stars Wars actor Adam Driver, while Rodolfo is played by Jeremy Irons.
Patrizia Reggiani: The Black Widow
When detectives arrested Patrizia Reggiani on suspicion of the murder, she asked if she might be allowed to change before being taken to the police station. She emerged wearing a floor-length mink coat. In her manicured hands she held a leather Gucci handbag. The Black Widow liked to be the centre of attention.
The daughter of a waitress, Patrizia’s love of the high life came when her mother married into money. Indeed, when she started dating her future husband, she was so unimpressed by his ‘small’ car she demanded he buy her a Ferrari. As she later admitted in an interview: ‘I’d rather weep in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle.’
Despite their subsequent divorce, Reggiani continued to refer to Maurizio as ‘my husband’ and was unimpressed by a financial settlement of £900,000 a year, dismissing it as a ‘mere bowl of lentils’.
Lady Gaga playing Patrizia Reggiani in the new movie, House of Gucci
In 1995, fearing that Maurizio would marry his new lover, and so threaten her status and their children’s future inheritance, she hired the services of a hitman.
‘At a human level, I’m sorry,’ she would tell reporters as she attended his funeral. ‘I can’t say the same on a personal level.’
Despite her obvious lack of concern, it would take police two years to piece together what had happened and arrest her. A search of her Cartier diary showed that she had marked the date of Maurizio’s murder with the word ‘Paradise’.
Found guilty of ordering his murder and sentenced to 29 years in jail, Patrizia passed her time in Milan’s San Vittore prison reading, sleeping and exercising a pet ferret called Bambi (it suffered an untimely death when sat on by an inmate).
Freed early, in 2016, she spent several years working at a costume jewellery firm as a design consultant. Now living in Milan, she continues to receive her annual £900,000 payout from her late husband’s estate, after a court ruling in 2017.
Patrizia told a documentary this year: ‘I used to go around and ask everyone, even the butcher, to kill him — “Is there anyone who has the courage to kill my husband?” ’ She added: ‘I couldn’t do it alone. I’m not able, I don’t know how to aim and I don’t know how to use a gun.’
She is now 72 and her daughters no longer have anything to do with her.
Despite Patrizia offering to meet Lady Gaga, the singer-turned-actor declined to do so, fearing it could influence her portrayal.
‘I lived as her for a year and a half,’ said Lady Gaga. ‘I was either in my hotel room, living and speaking as Reggiani, or I was on set, living and speaking as her.’
Patrizia said she was happy that she had taken the role. ‘It’s good,’ she added. ‘She looks like me.’
Giuseppina Auriemma: The Black Witch
For 30 years, Giuseppina — known as Pina — was best friends with Reggiani. Those days are long gone.
‘I completely erased Patrizia,’ Pina recently revealed. ‘I removed her from my life and my thoughts and I would never be her friend again.’ Played in the film by Salma Hayek, in 1998 Pina was jailed alongside Patrizia, serving 13 years in prison. She was convicted of acting as the ‘middle woman’ in the hit, liaising with the organiser of the murder.
When Pina was arrested she was described in the media as a maga — sorcerer or fortune-teller.
She has always denied an interest in the occult, explaining that she would simply accompany her friend to tarot card readings.
The Gucci couple blew thousands at a time hoping to know what the future held for them.
After the murder, the pair turned on one another, with Patrizia claiming that Pina had hired the hitman without her permission and then blackmailed her after the murder.
But in a recent interview Pina said the plan had been to get money from Maurizio, not to kill him.
She said she had been living in ‘perpetual remorse’ for not having warned him the night before. She now works as a volunteer helping the needy and women released from prison.
‘What happened deeply changed Pina. She underwent a radical transformation in jail,’ her lawyer, Pietro Traini, told the Mail.
‘Pina’s role was limited. She only got in touch with the organiser through people she knew in Naples.
Then she stepped out of the picture. But it was Patrizia who then stepped in and directly took action to organise the crime.’
Paola Franchi: The Lover
The day after Maurizio’s murder, his then partner Paola Franchi received an eviction notice from Patrizia forcing her to leave his apartment.
The legal timestamp, Paola noticed, showed the papers had been drawn up at 11am the previous day — less than three hours after Maurizio died.
Having first met growing up, Paola and Maurizio were together for five years, having both emerged from broken marriages.
‘We fell in love immediately,’ said Paola, played by Camille Cottin in the film. ‘Maurizio used to tell me that we were two halves of the same apple.’
Lady Gaga in costume as Patrizia in the new film ‘House of Gucci’
On the day of the murder, they planned to meet for lunch. Paola arrived to find her lover’s office cordoned off by police.
Before the killing, she had advised Maurizio that he needed a bodyguard to protect him from his former wife but he dismissed her fears.
‘Patrizia was stalking us,’ Paola recalled in a recent interview. ‘She still had spies in Maurizio’s circle and she knew all about our plans, his business dealings, everything. She called many times abusing him and threatening to kill him.’
An interior designer-turned-artist, Paola now divides her time between Milan and Kenya. ‘I have not forgiven Patrizia, it’s not in my nature, but I’m not vindictive nor a resentful person,’ she has said.
Aldo Gucci: FASHION godfather
Aldo was the eldest son of Guccio, who started the Gucci brand in 1921, joining the family business when he was 20.
In the 1950s he spearheaded the company’s presence in the U.S., prompting President John F. Kennedy to later herald him as the first Italian Ambassador to fashion.
But his later life was scarred by family feuds.
In 1986, Aldo pleaded guilty to evading more than $7 million (£4.9 million) in tax in the U.S.
He also admitted to diverting profits from the company in the U.S. to dummy companies abroad and was sentenced to a year in prison.
He served five months, dying not long after, aged 84. He is played in the upcoming film by Al Pacino.
Aldo’s granddaughter Patrizia Gucci said: ‘My grandfather was a very handsome man, like all the Guccis, and very tall, blue eyes and very elegant.
He is being played by Al Pacino, who is not very tall already, and a photo shows him as fat, short, really ugly. Shameful, because he doesn’t resemble him at all.’
House Of Gucci is in cinemas from November 26
Paolo Gucci: Black Sheep of the Family
The son of Aldo, Paolo had a hand in designing the brand’s famous double G logo — and had numerous fallouts with relatives.
Twice fired, he was involved in a £3.7 million lawsuit against the firm. He died months after his cousin, Maurizio, at the age of 64 and in the film is played by American actor Jared Leto.
The representation did not find favour, again, with Ms Gucci, his daughter, who told journalists that photos showing a bald Leto in a lilac suit were ‘horrible’.
Alessandra and Allegra Gucci: tried to cut off mother
At the time of Maurizio’s murder, his daughters, Alessandra, then 18, and 14-year-old Allegra, stood by their mother — who claimed that her actions had been affected by a brain tumour, meaning she was not fully in command of her mental faculties.
But they have since severed all ties with her and, after her release from prison, tried to stop her receiving her annual payout from the estate. The sisters live in the Swiss ski resort of St Moritz.
House Of Gucci is in cinemas from November 26.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group