Maurizio Gucci’s Real Death Was Even More Dramatic Than in ‘House of Gucci’—Here’s How He Was Murdered

Maurizio Gucci
Photo: AP Images. Everett Collection.

If you’ve watched House of Gucci, you may be shocked to learn that Maurizio Gucci’s cause of death
and how he died was even more dramatic than in the movie.

Maurizio Gucci was the grandson of Guccio Gucci, the founder of the luxury Italian fashion house, Gucci. He was born on September 26, 1948, in Florence, as the only child of actors Rodolfo Gucci and Sandra Ravel. In 1983, Maurizio launched a legal war against his uncle, Aldo Gucci, for control over the company after he became the majority stakeholder following his father’s death. Aldo accused Maurizio of forging his father’s signature to avoid paying inheritance taxes, which he was originally found guilty of but was later acquitted. After he was acquitted, Maurizio sold 47.8 percent of Gucci to Investcorp, a Bahrain-based investment fund that also owned Tiffany & Co, in 1988. Maurizio was made chairman of Gucci in 1989, however he sold his remaining stocks for $170 million to Investcorp in 1993 after the company’s finances were in the red from his leadership. The sale ended the Gucci family’s association with Gucci.

Maurizio was murdered on March 27, 1995, after he was shot by a hitman believed to be hired by his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani. Maurizio and Patrizia married in 1972 and had two daughters: Allegra and Alessandra. They separated in 1985, and five years later, Maurizio started dating Paola Franchi, a childhood friend who attended his wedding to Patrizia. After Maurizio and Patrizia finalized their divorce in 1994, he planned to marry Paola on his Saint Moritz estate in Switzerland before he was murdered.

Maurizio and Patrizia’s relationship was the inspiration for the 2021 movie, House of Gucci, in which Adam Driver and Lady Gaga played the couple respectively. The film, which was directed by Ridley Scott, was based on the 2001 book, The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, which investigated Maurizio’s death and why Patrizia may have wanted to kill him. So what was Maurizio Gucci’s cause of death and how did he die? Read on for all the details about his death that weren’t in House of Gucci.

Maurizio Gucci

Image: AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis.

How did Maurizio Gucci die?

How did Maurizio Gucci die? Maurizio was shot and killed by a hired hitman at 8:30 a.m. on March 27, 1995, as he walked up the steps to the building of his private office at Via Palestro 20 in Milan, Italy. The building’s doorman Giuseppe Onorato, who was the only eye witness to the murder, recalled the events in a 2016 interview with The Guardian. “It was a lovely spring morning, very quiet. Mr Gucci arrived carrying some magazines and said good morning. Then I saw a hand. It was a beautiful, clean hand, and it was pointing a gun,” he said.

Maurizio was shot three times in the back and shoulder as he went up the steps. He was shot a fourth and final time in the head before he collapsed. The shooter then noticed Onorato and shot him twice in the arm. “I thought it was a joke. Then the shooter saw me. He lifted the gun again and fired two more times. ‘What a shame,’ I thought. ‘This is how I die,'” he said. Onorato made it to the foyer of the building with Maurizio’s body, where he sat in a pool of blood until the carabinieri, the law enforcement in Italy, arrived. “I was cradling Mr Gucci’s head. He died in my arms,” he said.

By the time the police arrived, the shooter had disappeared into Milan’s Monday morning rush hour. Though the shooter never came back, Onorato feared that he would. “I was a poor man, so I had to go back to work at Via Palestro 20 when I recovered. I had a panic attack every time an unfriendly looking stranger approached,” he said. Onorato also explained that he still has pain in his left arm from the shooting. “I still have stabbing pains in my left arm, but every day for the past 21 years I’ve woken up thankful I’m alive,” he said.

What was Maurizio Gucci’s cause of death

What was Maurizio Gucci’s cause of death? According to a Washington Post report at the time, Maurizio was killed by the fourth and final shot in his temple, which resulted in head trauma, and was declared dead at the scene. Police believed Maurizio’s murder was not done by a professional at his time because the first three shots weren’t fatal. Onorato, for his part, was taken to a hospital in Milan after he was shot in the arm and leg, where he was reported in stable condition.

Who killed Maurizio Gucci?

Who killed Maurizio Gucci? Almost two years after his death, Maurizio’s ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani, was arrested and accused of hiring the hitman that murdered Maurizio. According to prosecutors, Patrizia—who was nicknamed the “Black Widow” in the media—had a motive to kill her husband due to the believed jealousy and resentment she had toward him at the time. The prosecutors argued that Patrizia wanted control over the Gucci estate and to prevent Maurizio from marrying his partner, Paola Franchi, because the marriage would’ve cut Patrizi’s alimony in half to $860,000 a year. The hitman who killed Maurizio was Benedetto Ceraulo, a pizzeria owner in debt, who had been hired by Patrizia through her psychic and close friend, Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma.

In 1997, Patrizia was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to 29 years in prison. Though she asked for the conviction to be overturned, claiming that a brain tumor had affected her judgement, the appeals court denied the request in 2000 but reduced Patrizia’s sentence to 26 years. Patrizia was released from prison on good behavior in October 2016 after serving 18 years. She currently lives in Milan.

After Patrizia’s conviction in 1997, the courts also ordered her to pay Onorato compensation of £142,000 for damages. Onorato told The Guardian in 2016, however, that he hasn’t received any of it. Patrizia, for her part, has declared herself nullatenente—the Italian word for bankrupt that translates to “a person who has nothing.” Patrizia’s daughters, Allegra Gucci and Alessandra Gucci, on the other hand, have inherited most of Maurizio’s estate, including millions of euros, a yacht and properties in New York City, Saint Moritz and Milan. “I’m not bitter,” Onorato said. “But I do wonder, if a rich person had been wounded in that doorway instead of me, whether they’d have been treated with more respect.”

House of Gucci is in theaters now.

The House of Gucci by Sara Gay Forden

"House of Gucci" by Sara Gay Forden

Image: Courtesy Custom House.

For more about House of Gucci, read the book the movie is based on: The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed. In the book, which was first published in 2001, author Sara Gay Forden tells the sensational true story of how Maurizio Gucci was murdered on the morning of March 27, 1995, in Milan, and the events that led to the arrest of his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani, a.k.a. the “Black Widow.” The book investigates why Patrizia may have had a motive to kill her ex-husband—was it because of his mistress? was his spending out of control?—whether she really was the reason for his death. (Plus, who else could have done it.) The House of Gucci is described as a “page-turning account of high fashion, high finance, and heartrending personal tragedy.”

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