Though their love was dysfunctional and ultimately destructive, there is a sense in which Maurizio is Patrizia’s soul mate. They have much in common especially a desire to escape their pasts.
Maurizio’s background was fabulously wealthy compared with Patrizia but his childhood was emotionally deprived. He had a bullying abusive father, Rodolfo, uncles, cousins, all following his grandfather Guccio Gucci’s premise that family competitiion and fraternal struggles for power only ‘increased the strength of our blood”. Unsurprisingly Maurizio was timid and avoided conflict, and by all accounts Maurizio was one of the shyest of the Gucci clan.
Nevertheless, having and fallen in love with Patrizia, Maurizio did finally find the strength to stand up his father and uncles to marry Patrizia in 1971 – even though this meant being written out of his father’s legacy. Maurizio’s father Rodolfo tried to intercede with the Bishop of Milan to get the marriage stopped, and called Patrizia a ‘gold digger’ and ‘low class’ –a little ironic since the whole clan owed their fortune to Guccio Gucci, who was a lowly hat maker. Only Maurizio’s affable cousin Paolo stood by him.
After the wedding, Maurizion wanted no involvement in the House of Gucci. For a while the newly weds escape the dark side of the Gucci legacy. He and Patrizia have two daughters, and Patrizia gives Maurizio the strength to stay out of the family feuds for several years. But when Paolo tells the Gucci Board he wants to start his own label, the internecine conflict becomes so animated (even physically violent), Maurizio is sucked into the board room battles to protect his cousin. Out of the blue, Maurizio’s father dies and to everyone’s shock and surprise, does pass on a controlling interest in the business to his estranged son. In alliance with Paolo, Maurizio can now stand up to the rest of the family, and they both organise a boardroom coup, leaving Paolo free to pursue his own label, and Maurizio in charge of the fashion house.
But victory came at great cost. The Gucci label was struggling to keep its pre-eminence in the new world of international popular fashion, and had labels like Armani, Versace and Yves San Laurent nibbling away at market share. As Maurizio got more and more involved in the running of the business, he became increasingly estranged from his wife. Meanwhile, her irrational fears became more obsessive. Tired of the struggles both in the home and in the board room, now massively enriched by foreign invesment in the company, Maurizio left Patrizia in 1983.
Even then Maurizio was half in awe, half in love with Patrizia. He sent news he was leaving her through his family doctor along with some valium – he was too scared to tell her face to face. And while he carried on running the Gucci firm under constant
threats from the rest of the family, he also took ten years to divorce her. In 1987 he sold half the company to a Bahrain investment bank, but continued as managing director for the next six years, spending massively. It is not until 1993 that he finally divested the rest of his holdings and made a final divorce offer to Patrizia.
Finally free from the Gucci brand, Maurizio settled for the quiet life with an interior designer Poala Franchi and her young child. For the next two years Maurizio is a private man, living in Milan out of the limelight, finally free of the Gucci curse. But Maurizio hasn’t reckoned on his ex wife’s obsession – or Pina Auriemma’s underworld mafia contacts.