One year before Patrizia Reggiani arranged the murder of Maurizio Gucci, they divorced. And the last years of their marriage overlapped with the former Gucci head of house’s affair with another woman: former model and interior designer Paola Franchi.
Though she was five years his junior, Franchi and Gucci knew one another from childhood. In fact, she was such a longtime friend that she even reportedly attended his 1972 wedding to Reggiana. Franchi got married in the 1980s — but by 1990, sparks began flying between the tall blonde and Gucci.
Both were eager to leave their reportedly unhappy marriages and partner up, even living together in part while he was still married to Reggiana in a luxury apartment in Milan (from 1990 to 1995, the Guardian reported in 2016). Franchi’s son from her previous marriage, Charly, also lived with the couple.
And while their relationship occurred primarily while Gucci was still married, Franchi said the pair wanted to exchange vows themselves. They had plans to marry when Gucci was shot to death in the foyer of his Milan office in 1995.
The fact that Reggiani was the mastermind behind the murder was no surprise to Franchi. In fact, she claims that she suspected her immediately.
“I thought straight away it was on the orders of his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani,” she told The Times in 2010. “She was crazy for vendetta. She’d been threatening Maurizio ever since she found out that our relationship was a lasting one.”
“Patrizia was stalking us,” she told the Guardian. “She still had spies in Maurizio’s circle and she knew all about our plans, his business dealings, everything. She called many times abusing him and threatening to kill him… I begged him to hire a bodyguard, but he refused. He didn’t believe Patrizia would go through with her threat because of their girls.”
Reggiana and Franchi were both depicted as a golddiggers during Reggiana’s trial for Gucci’s murder.
“Oh, they always resort to these stupid types,” Franchi told the Guardian. “Actually my previous husband, whom I left for Maurizio, was even richer, so it was all nonsense.”
Reggiani was convicted in 1998 for setting up Gucci’s murder and subsequently sentenced to 29 years in prison, 18 of which she served before her release in 2016. She is played by Lady Gaga while Adam Driver plays her famous slain husband in the upcoming movie “House of Gucci.”
The Guardian described Franchi in 2016 as an artist who lives in a converted porcelain factory, filled with books and paintings, in Milan. They noted that she spends half the year in Kenya.
“She’s chatty and quick to laugh, with a lightness of spirit,” the Guardian article states.
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