A STYLISHLY dressed hitman finished off Maurizio Gucci with a bullet to the temple as he lay dying on the cold marble floor of his Milan office’s sumptuous lobby.
With so many business enemies to choose from, the police initially missed the person who truly wanted the multi-millionaire dead in 1995 — his embittered ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani.
Lady Gaga stars as the ‘Black Widow’ in film about Gucci heir’s murder
The cold-blooded murder of the last Gucci to head the famous Italian fashion house seemed tailor made for Hollywood — and now this true-life tale of bloody revenge will be played out in cinemas, with Lady Gaga starring as the “Black Widow” Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio.
The impressive cast of the film Gucci, directed by Sir Ridley Scott, will also include Al Pacino, Jared Leto and Jeremy Irons.
The Maurizio Gucci story began with love conquering all, when he defied his powerful father Rodolfo to marry Reggiani, who came from poor beginnings but soon developed a taste and appetite for luxury.
But it turned into a tale of a woman scorned when the former president of the global fashion brand ran off with a younger woman, Paola Franchi.
Star Wars actor Adam Driver plays the murdered Maurizio Gucci
Consumed by anger, Reggiani sought a contract killer.
In new documentary Lady Gucci, available from today on the Discovery+ channel, she confesses: “I used to go around and ask everyone, even the butcher, to kill him — ‘Is there anyone who has the courage to kill my husband?’”
The release of two films in one year about the troubled Gucci clan will open up old wounds that have not yet completely healed.
But last night Reggiani, 72, who was freed from prison in October 2016 after serving 18 years for arranging the killing, said she had few regrets about taking part in the documentary.
Maurizio Gucci with wife Patrizia Reggiani, who ordered his murder
And she told The Sun: “My expectations are to live a quiet life, surrounded by people who appreciate me for who I am today and not for what I might have today.”
That is a change of tune for a woman who is perceived as having an unhealthy obsession with flashy possessions and a luxury lifestyle.
In October 2011 she turned down the chance of moving to an open prison, where inmates are expected to work, saying: “I’ve never worked in my life and I’m certainly not going to start now.”
Born into a poor family, Reggiani was adopted by wealthy entrepreneur Ferdinando Reggiani after he fell for her mother.
When Maurizio eyed Patrizia at a party he asked his friends: “Who is that beautiful girl who looks like Liz Taylor?”
But she later told how she thought he was a “loser” because he turned up in a small car, and although she agreed to start dating him, she insisted he buy her a Ferrari.
Reggiani later said in a TV interview: “I’d rather weep in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle.”
But Maurizio was smitten, while Rodolfo, who had a career as a film star before jointly running the Gucci company with his brother Aldo, was so convinced his son was marrying a gold-digger that he cut off his funds and asked the Cardinal of Milan to prevent their planned marriage.
Reggiani flanked by police as she attends court in 1998
Even so, the couple were married in October 1972. For the next decade all seemed well, and the couple had two daughters, Allegra and Alessandra. But after Rodolfo died in 1983 Maurizio took control of the family firm, which quickly floundered under his stewardship and Reggiani publicly condemned her husband’s poor management.
Criticising his lack of original thought, she said: “My husband was like a pillow — he carried the imprint of the last one who sat on it.”
Tired of her barbs, Maurizio packed his bags for a business trip in May 1985 — and never came home.
Unwilling to accept it was over after their divorce in 1991, Reggiani continued to call him “my husband” and was not content with the £900,000 a year in financial support she had been awarded.
With Maurizio due to marry Paola, she wanted him dead but she could not pull the trigger herself. Reggiani admitted: “I’m not able, I don’t know how to aim and I don’t know how to use a gun. I couldn’t do it alone.”
This is where the facts of the case turn murkier, because it was Reggiani’s old friend, Naples clairvoyant Pina Auriemma, who found the hitman, Benedetto Ceraulo.
Ceraulo was not a professional killer, even though he acted like one when confronted with his victim.
Paola Franchi, who claimed to have had a love affair with Maurizio Gucci, arrives in Milan’s court in 1998
In fact he was a down-on-his-luck pizzeria owner, desperate for the six-figure price on Maurizio’s head.
Reggiani claims Auriemma hired Ceraulo without her say-so and then blackmailed her after the killing.
But Auriemma, who no longer has anything to do with Reggiani, told The Sun: “I have great remorse, even if I did not actively participate in the organisation of the murder.”
But there has been little sign of remorse from the Black Widow herself. On the day of Maurizio’s murder she wrote the word “Paradise” in her diary and quickly turfed Paola out of the mansion she had shared with him.
Fashion scion Maurizio Gucci seen in 1994, a year before he was gunned down
For two years it looked like Reggiani would not be caught. The killing, at 8.30 in the morning, had the hallmarks of organised crime and there were plenty of people who might want Maurizio dead.
He had run up debts with his extravagant lifestyle, including a 23-crew yacht, and relatives had accused him of faking his father’s signature to get his hands on the Gucci fortune.
But Paola always thought Reggiani was behind the murder and an anonymous tip-off in 1997 finally forced police to follow that lead.
Reggiani said: “I didn’t think they would have caught me.”
‘I didn’t think they would have caught me’, Reggiani said
The following year she was convicted of arranging the murder and given a 29-year jailed sentence, along with Auriemma, who received 25 years behind bars.
Ceraulo was jailed for life, his getaway driver Orazio Cicala got 29 years and hotel porter Ivano Savioni, who helped to organise the crime, was jailed for 26 years.
Afterwards, Reggiani’s lawyers tried to launch appeals, arguing that she had not been able to organise a murder because she had a brain tumour at the time.
Even so, the Black Widow makes her time in San Vittore prison in Milan sound like a breeze. She said: “I had a great time there, they were years of peace.
Benedetto Ceraulo (C) bids farewell to his wife at the Milan court in 1998
“I slept, I washed and went down to the garden, I had special treatment.”
Her release in 2016 came as a reward for good behaviour, and Reggiani now says she is going through a rebirth, and wants her friends to know that she is fine.
With a court having ruled that she is still entitled to the £900,000 a year from her late ex-husband’s estate, she should certainly live comfortably.
She shares her home with a parrot and a white dog, but her two daughters no longer want anything to do with their mother. Her former friend Auriemma also has no wish to speak to Reggiani again.
She said: “I don’t hold a grudge because otherwise I won’t live well.
“I completely erased Patrizia. I removed her from my life and my thoughts and I would never be her friend again.”
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