Hitmen and high fashion: The true tale behind House of Gucci

You've seen the film, but that's not the full story. Harry Shukman talks to fashion journalist Sara Gay Forden about the salacious saga that inspired House of Gucci...

In the dark ages of the 1980s, long before celebrities began consciously uncoupling, Maurizio Gucci walked out on his wife. The rising star of the Gucci dynasty told Patrizia he was away on business and never came back. Maurizio sent a friend round two days later to officially give her the heave-ho, then another pal arrived with the optimistic request that Patrizia pack up his clothes and put them in a waiting car. 

Had Maurizio known that his cold shoulder amounted to a declaration of war, he might have considered a gentler course of action. But the Guccis, who are more litigious than the Jarndyces and more internecinally aggressive than Cain, have a reputation for getting their own way. Whatever the cost.

Patrizia went through the roof. She had stayed with Maurizio for 13 years. They shared two daughters. They had married when he was still a coddled boychick, peeping out underneath the wings of his domineering father Rodolfo. To encourage him out of his shell, Patrizia urged him on with the mantra, “the era of Maurizio has begun”. Now she was being abandoned to an uncertain future of alimony. No more red carpet. No more ski chalet. No more yacht. Whenever friends told her about Maurizio’s new lovers, she would go ballistic. 

Then, after nine years in separation limbo, she heard that her estranged husband was getting married to Paola Franchi, a former model, which spelled divorce for Patrizia. What would this mean for her financial situation? She decided it was time to get her own back. 

So she hired a hitman, who shot Maurizio dead. Four bullets, as he was coming into work one morning.

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