As Maurizio Gucci arrived at his office “on a lovely spring morning” on March 27, 1995, a gunman walked up behind him and fired four bullets into his body.
“I was cradling Mr. Gucci’s head,” ex-doorman Giuseppe Onorato later told The Guardian. “He died in my arms.”
The dramatic murder—and the volatile relationship Maurizio shared with his ex-wife—is the focus of the new movie “House of Gucci” but it was not the first time the Gucci family was surrounded by drama.
The once-family-owned company was rife with family feuds and in-fighting for decades, as Gucci family members fought to gain control of the company and argued over competing creative visions for the high-fashion brand.
During one company meeting in Italy, tempers raged and boiled over so intensely that family members started to hurl the company’s prized Gucci handbags at one another. The bags were later found abandoned all over the lawn outside the office by the company gardeners, who suspected there may have been a robbery, ABC News reports.
One family member also retaliated for being fired from the company by providing authorities with information that sent his octogenarian father to prison for tax evasion.
Today the brand is no longer controlled by the Gucci family, but for the decades that the Gucci family ruled the coveted brand they established some of its most iconic elements. Here are some of the Gucci family’s key members:
Guccio Gucci: The iconic brand was started in the early 1900s by Guccio Gucci, whose own fight with his father prompted him to leave Florence for London, where he worked as a waiter at a hotel and became enamored with the guest’s elegant suitcases and trunks, the Independent reports.
Guccio later returned to Italy and began making his own luggage, saddles and riding boots out of leather, opening a small shop in Florence in 1921, according to Elle.
Aldo Gucci: Aldo Gucci, played by Al Pacino in “House of Gucci,” grew up spending long hours as a teenager working in his father Guccio’s shop, and became the company’s first salesman, reports Elle. In 1938, when he was 20 years old, he opened his first Gucci store in Rome and later went to the United States with brothers Rodolfo and Vasco to open the company’s first international store.
Once hailed as the “Michelangelo of the merchandising world” according to an 1983 article in The New York Times, Aldo—who was responsible for creating the company’s now iconic interlocking double-G logo—dedicated his career to expanding the company’s reach and creating a vertically integrated business model that kept the tanneries, manufacturing and retail components all handled in-house.
Rodolpho Gucci: Rodolpho Gucci, once a silent film star, helped his brothers Aldo and Vasco open the first international store. When his brother Vasco died, Aldo and Rodolpho, played in the movie by Jeremy Irons, agreed to split the company in half, with each retaining 50% ownership, but Aldo and his three sons grew resentful of this arrangement because they felt they had brought more to the company, ABC News reports.
Tensions continued to grow between factions of the family after Rodolpho fired Aldo’s son, Paolo, from the Italian parent company in 1978 because of clashing visions for the company, the Independent reports. When Roldolfo died several years later in 1983, he left his half of the company to his son Maurizio, then 25 years old.
Maurizio Gucci: By the time Maurizio Gucci—played by Adam Driver in the movie—retained his father’s shares of the company in 1983, the company was struggling and the Gucci heirs were at odds with one another. According to “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed” by Sara Gay Forden, Maurizio eventually united the company but he wasn’t a natural leader. He was eventually forced to sell his shares of the business to an outside company in 1993 for $120 million, Biography reports.
His dramatic murder—which was arranged by ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani—on March 27, 1995 is the focus of the new film, starring Lady Gaga as Maurizio’s scorned ex-wife.
Paolo Gucci: Aldo’s son Paolo Gucci—played by Jared Leto in “House of Gucci”—served as the design chief of the Italian leather goods company, once claiming he had designed 80 percent of the items in the Gucci catalog, according to his 1995 obituary in The New York Times.
While Paolo may have had an eye for fashion, he was also the source of some of the Gucci’s most explosive family feuds. After a particularly volatile board meeting in 1982, Paolo filed assault charges against his brothers Roberto and Giorgio and first cousin Maurizio.
Paolo was often at odds with his family because of what he described as his attempts to modernize the company, even wanting to sell his own line of goods under the name “Paolo Gucci,” according to the Independent. After he was fired from Gucci and its subsidiary in America, Paolo retaliated by turning his father—who was in his 80s—into investigators for tax evasion in America.
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