“It’s better to cry in a Rolls-Royce than to be happy on a bicycle.”
Patrizia Reggiani enunciated her best-known phrase in a television interview when she was still part of the highest echelon of the Italian elite. It is perhaps the one that best defines the obsession with luxury and glamor that has accompanied her for most of her life.
Years later, the “black fashion widow,” as she would come to be known, became one of Italy’s most hated women after a media trial in which she was sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison for orchestrating the murder of her ex-husband by a hit man. for rent in 1995.
The ex was none other than Maurizio Gucci, heir to the fashion label Gucci, founded by his grandfather, the prestigious designer Guccio Gucci, in 1906.
The case that shocked Italy and the fashion industry became a movie. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jared Leto and Salma Hayek, Gucci house premieres this Thursday (25/11) in Brazil.
Played by Lady Gaga in cinema, Patrizia Reggiani was born in a small town on the outskirts of Milan, in northern Italy, on December 2, 1948. She did not know her biological father and her mother worked as a waitress.
The family’s previously humble financial condition changed when she was 12 years old – her mother married Ferdinando Reggiani, a wealthy businessman in the transport sector.
Reggiani liked to present his stepdaughter with luxury items, from fur coats to sports cars.
Gradually, the young woman began to frequent high society and circulated among the most influential people in Milan, including the Guccis.
At a party in November 1970, he met Maurizio Gucci, whom he would marry two years later and with whom he had two daughters: Alessandra, born in 1977, and Allegra (1981).
Ostentation was routine in the couple’s lives, which had a huge penthouse in New York, right on Fifth Avenue, a luxurious villa in Mexico, a winter cottage in the Alps and the largest wooden yacht in the world.
Maurizio’s father, Rodolfo Gucci, never approved of the relationship between the two. He considered Patrizia to be self-interested and something of a social climber, says Sara Gay Forden, author of the book. Gucci house, used as the basis for the film adaptation.
The marriage begins to fall apart when, after the sudden death of his father, Maurizio takes over the company. He and his wife had different ideas about how to manage the brand.
“When he was younger, Maurizio turned to Patrizia for support and strength to stand up to his father. But as he gained power, he felt overwhelmed by her criticism,” writes Forden.
Eventually, the relationship came to an end.
from love to hate
In 1985, Maurizio left home and never returned. Forden says that for years she had nurtured the hope that they would ever be a couple again. When Maurizio started dating other women, however, those expectations turned to bitterness.
In 1991 they divorced.
“She saw everything she tried to achieve in life through Maurizio, all the fame, status and wealth, slipping out of her hands,” describes the author.
In 1992, Patrizia was diagnosed with a brain tumor, removed without major consequences. She asked her ex-husband to take care of the daughters, but Maurizio refused, saying the work kept him too busy.
For the next three years, he gave Patrizia a $100,000-a-month pension, but forbade her to use some of the family’s luxurious properties, now frequented by his new partner, Paola Franchi.
Forden says Patrizia swore to destroy her ex-husband and told several people, including her housekeeper, that she wanted to “see him dead”. She came to acknowledge having given these statements.
At 8:20 am on March 27, 1995, Maurizio Gucci, then 46, left home to go to work.
About 15 minutes later, he was shot four times while still outside his office, located in one of Milan’s most upscale neighborhoods.
According to reports, he was killed by a man with wavy hair. Later, the police would report that he was a hired killer.
Patrizia moved into Maurizio’s home on Milan’s upscale Corso Venezia street with her two daughters – then teenagers – and threw Franchi out of the house.
Almost two years later, on January 31, 1997, two police cars pulled up to the address to pick her up.
Calmly, she walked out the door wearing glittering gold jewelry and diamonds, a mink fur coat that touched the floor, and a leather Gucci bag.
“She thought she could get away with the murder charge and would be back home in a few hours,” Forden points out.
Milanese police had evidence that Patrizia had ordered the death of her ex-husband and paid $375,000 to an assassin to commit the crime.
In June 1998, she was tried by a court in Milan. By then, there was little left of the woman who liked to show off.
Her short dark hair was disheveled, she wore simple blue cotton pants and a cotton sweater slung over her shoulders.
In November of the same year, Patrizia, along with four accomplices, was found guilty of the murder of Maurizio Gucci and sentenced to 29 years in prison.
The trial had a lot of media coverage. It was then that she became known as the “Black Widow of Fashion”.
Patrizia’s daughters – real victims of the tragedy, according to Forden – asked for the sentence to be overturned, alleging that the brain tumor that affected the mother could have affected her personality.
The sentence was not overturned, but reduced to 26 years. Faced with the prospect of spending so many years in jail, Patrizia even attempted suicide, but prison guards found her just in time, according to Italian press reports in 2000.
In the end, he ended up serving 18 years in prison. It was released in 2016 for good behavior.
She even turned down a previous opportunity to receive parole in 2011 because it was a prerequisite that she be employed.
“I’ve never worked in my life and I’m certainly not going to start now,” she told the lawyer, according to British newspaper The Guardian.
According to The Telegraph newspaper, as a result of an agreement signed in 1993, Patrizia earns more than US$1 million a year from Gucci’s inheritance, in addition to installments of a payment of US$22 million to which she was entitled and which was withheld while she was in prison.
Since leaving prison, Patrizia has lived in Milan, where she has been seen (and photographed) several times with her pet macaw on her shoulder.
Last March, aged 72, she told the Italian press: “I’m very upset that Lady Gaga is playing me in Ridley Scott’s new film without having the thoughtfulness and sensitivity to come talk to me.”
She also expressed her displeasure at not being involved in the project and said she would not receive “a single cent of the film”.
“It’s not a question of finances, but of common sense and respect,” he added.
She always denied being the mastermind of the crime.
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