The beautiful Black Widow hated her millionaire husband so much she plotted his murder with the help of a fortune-teller.
That is the charge Patrizia Reggiani Gucci – former wife of the heir to one of the world\’s top fashion empires – is preparing to face in a Milan court.
All Italy is gripped by the tale of sexual jealousy, paid assassins, greed and betrayal.
It was at 8am on March 27, 1995, when Maurizio Gucci, 46, was gunned down by a smartly- dressed hitman as he walked up his office steps in a busy Milan street.
Asked the following day how she felt about his death, petite Patrizia – still striking at 50 – was offhand, almost cheery.
\”Some people die in their beds, some die in the streets, some have the privilege of being killed,\” she quipped.
It was a remark she has regretted ever since.
For during her 14 months in jail, bit by bit the evidence has begun to stack up against her.
And last week her former friend, fortune teller Pina Auriemma – also on trial – turned against her.
After refusing to talk for more than a year, Pina told magistrates that Patrizia ordered her former husband\’s death because of the \”insatiable hatred\” she felt toward him after he took up with another woman.
\”Patrizia often said she wanted him dead,\” Auriemma said. \”She paid pounds 250,000 to have him killed.\”
Pina said she acted as the go-between for the Black Widow and the killers she recruited.
She said: \”I introduced her to a hotel porter and he introduced her to the two killers.
\”But I don\’t know anything about the final plans because by that time Patrizia was dealing directly with them.\”
The fortune teller decided to turn state\’s evidence after being shown pre- trial documents in which Patrizia put all the blame on her.
And she claimed that Patrizia had offered her pounds 700,000 to take the rap.
Her evidence will be a sickening blow to the woman for whom the most important thing in life has always been money and hanging on to it at all costs.
Daughter of a laundress, she got her first mink coat from her stepfather at the age of 12.
Later she became the mistress of a wealthy tycoon and moved in with him when his wife died.
Driven by a unquenchable lust for money, she once said on Italian TV: \”I would rather cry in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle.\”
Maurizio Gucci fell in love with her Gina Lollobrigida looks, and they married in 1972 – despite fierce opposition from his parents.
His father, Rodolfo Gucci, said she was a gold-digger, and tried to get the Archbishop of Milan to block the marriage.
Patrizia loved the high life. She travelled with 120 pieces of luggage on a private jet, and had a 70ft yacht, the Creole.
She served lobster and champagne at birthday parties for her daughters, Alessandra and Allegra.
But the couple\’s 1984 separation was followed by a bitter and fiercely- contested divorce.
Patrizia won a pounds 1 million settlement … a payment she dismissed as \”nothing but a plate of lentils\”.
She was furious that he would not let her have a villa in the Swiss ski resort of San Moritz.
Meanwhile, the Gucci business ran into trouble. The family lost control of the company, and Maurizio sold his holding to a Bahrain investment bank for pounds 110 million.
Relations between the couple worsened, and Maurizio halved his alimony payments.
Patrizia was even more incensed when he took up with blonde interior- decorator Paola Franchi and hinted that he planned to marry her.
That, the prosecuting lawyers will argue, is when Patrizia – fearing that Paola might inherit everything – decided to have him killed.
For two years, police investigations made no headway. Then hotel porter Ivano Savioni bragged that he and three others arranged the Gucci hit.
Now he\’s accused, along with Patrizia, Pina Auriemma and the alleged killers, gunman Benedetto Ceraulo and getaway driver Orazio Cicala.
Awaiting her trial on April 16, Patrizia protests her innocence.
\”I have never denied saying that I wanted Maurizio dead,\” she admits. \”But I had nothing to do with it.\”
Patrizia faces up to 30 years in jail.
The stark cell she shares with two women is a far cry from her luxury villa in Milan.
And after the confessions of the hotel porter and the fortune-teller – not to mention evidence yet to be heard from the two killers – the high life could be over for ever.
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