Maurizio Gucci gave his wife everything that a spoiled, thrustingly ambitious woman like her might crave: wealth, status, one of the classiest, most instantly recognisable names in fashion, an array of homes dotted from New York to St Moritz, and two beautiful daughters.
Well, not quite everything. He also cheated on her, messed up the family business, got a little tetchy when she told him his luxury yacht wasn\’t luxurious enough, and then divorced her in favour of a taller, blonder woman. Who wouldn\’t get a little mad under the circumstances? Who wouldn\’t be tempted to fly into a jealous rage and cook up a wild murder plot against such an errant husband? Who wouldn\’t want to put a bullet in his brain and have done with him once and for all?
Not a lot of people, perhaps. But then Patrizia Reggiani, for all her faults and her propensity for making enemies, could never be accused of being like a lot of people. As she was hauled off to jail to begin a 29- year murder sentence on Tuesday, she still clung to her protestations of innocence, and insisted that the emotion consuming her was not hatred for Maurizio, but overwhelming love.
From the outside, it was hard to know whether to feel Patrizia\’s pain, or laugh at the absurdity of it all. Here she was, an overtly respectable figure in Milan society, consorting with an assortment of oddballs and criminal lowlifes so incompetent that they probably couldn\’t fare-dodge on a bus without getting caught.
There, sitting next to her in the dock, was her erstwhile spiritual counsellor, a Neapolitan medium called Pina Auriemma whom she first asked to arrange the crime. Then there was Auriemma\’s friend Ivano Savioni, a hotel porter seemingly more interested in devil-worship and the occult than the mechanics of first-degree murder; Orazio Cicala, the driver of the getaway car, who pocketed most of the 600 million lire (pounds 226,000) bounty money offered by Patrizia, and promptly lost it all at the gaming tables; and finally, Benedetto Ceraulo, the gunman who cut Maurizio down in the foyer of his office building on the morning of 27 March 1995, and who subsequently so terrified the rest of the gang that they decided to confess to the police rather than risk his wrath.
Most incompetent of all, though, was Patrizia herself who, according to the trial testimony, was haughty enough to believe that she could let these lower-class minions take the fall for her. When her friend Pina Auriemma was already in custody, Patrizia sent her a note urging her not to name names. \”Leave me out of it, and I\’ll shower you with gold,\” she wrote. Auriemma, shocked by her benefactor\’s utter lack of concern for her well-being, made a full confession that led straight to Patrizia\’s arrest.
The whole sordid affair seems a million miles from the comfortable, understated world of Gucci moccasins and bamboo-handled handbags. Then again, the Gucci family has a long history of self-destructive dysfunction, a weakness for feuding that Maurizio\’s and Patrizia\’s generation pushed to such a limit that they lost control of the company altogether.
The bitter rows became legendary long before Maurizio met his sticky end, and the ruthlessness with which rival scions have aired their dirty linen in public has been a never-ending source of gossip for the Italian press. One family ex-wife once remarked that being married to a Gucci was worse than going to dinner with the Borgias. Recent events have shown that she was not exaggerating.