The artist in the family, and for many years the chief fashion designer for the Gucci brand, Paolo is emotional and expressive, and Maurizio’s natural ally. Early on he seemed to recognise the abusive tendencies of his legacy and once explained how “Nonno (Grandpa) would pit the children against each other, to prove they had balls…”. Through his love of fashion and design Paolo has a dream that one day he will succeed in renovating the label – even create one of his own. Like Maurizio, he is often in conflict with the sterner, controlling older generation – and his conflict with his own father Aldo exceeds even Maurizio’s with his.
By the early 1980s as the upmarket Gucci house had become a global and more populistic airport brand, and Paolo leads the charge in changing Gucci with the times. However, when blocked by his brothers and family, he tries to set up his own label. this desire for self expression meets with even fiercer opposition, and on on occasion leads to violence. Paolo emerges from one boardroom meeting with blood streaming from his head having been hit with a phone by one of his brothers. Paolo gets his revenge by betraying his father the US tax authorities in. Aldo, then 81, is soon arrested and prosecuted, but the family feud – a staple among the Guccis – simmers on through countless law suits in the US and Italy.
The real turning point is when Maurizio receives 50 per cent of the Gucci shares on the death of his own father Rodolfo. Though Aldo and his other sons try to bring a law suit claiming Maurizio has faked the signature, the suit fails, and with Maurizio on side side with a controlling stake of the company, Paolo finally achieves his dream of getting his own name on a range of fashion accessories.
But Paolo’s own divorce from his wife Jenny (above) soon brings Paolo into court again. He is threatened with imprisonment, and creates another public scandal when many his beloved race horses are found to have been neglected in a New York state stables, and have to be shot.
Disgraced, unkempt, and already suffering from chronic liver problems, Paolo died soon after Maurizio’s murder – from natural causes according to the post mortem – but more likely from a broken heart.