Excerpt from the book “House of Gucci” – about the discord between Maurizio Gucci and Patricia Reggiano

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The focus of both the book and the film is on the events leading up to the assassination of Maurizio Gucci, the grandson of Gucci brand founder Guccio Gucci and son Rodolfo Gucci. In 1997, a year and a half after the tragedy, Patricia Reggini, Maurizio’s ex-wife, was accused of hiring a killer. According to the prosecutor, she tried to prevent the wedding of her ex-boyfriend to a new girlfriend Paola Franci. This could halve Patricia’s alimony to $ 860,000. per year, which, she said, was a “bowl of lentils.” She was sentenced to 29 years in prison for organizing the murder, but was released early in 2016.

The passage tells what led to the rift between the couple and how, in parallel, Maurizio fought a war for a fashion empire with his uncle Aldo Gucci.

As Rodolfo had predicted, Maurizio had changed. He sought the advice of de Sole and Pylon, and became increasingly annoyed at Patricia’s attempts to guide him. In his youth, Maurizio hoped that Patricia would support him, giving him the strength to stand up to his own father. When he gained influence, his wife suddenly took his father’s place: she told him what to do, how and when, criticized his decisions and assistants. The whole family company belonged to him – and he felt oppressed.

“Patricia just tortured him,” de Sole recalled. – She turned him against his uncle, against his cousins, against all those who, in her opinion, did not treat him properly. At the Gucci parties, she could say, “I wasn’t the first to be offered champagne, so they don’t respect you!”

“She started harassing Maurizio,” Pylone confirmed. – She was an ambitious woman, she wanted to have weight in the company. I did not let her interfere, I said: wives have no place here – and she hated me for it.

Meanwhile, Patricia could not forget what Rodolfo had warned her about. She finally admitted that her father-in-law was right about Maurizio. Obsessed with the dream of transforming Gucci, her husband forgot about everything else – including his family. He did not accept her opinions and advice, a wall arose between them.

“He wanted Patricia to say goodbye to him, and she kept reporting him,” Roberta Cassol said. “She’s become an unpleasant person.”

De Sole and Pilone replaced Patricia as loyal advisers, for which she hated them. Driven by her own ambitions, she saw herself as a strong woman over the shoulder of a weak man – and suddenly found herself out of business.

“Maurizio has become changeable, arrogant and unpleasant,” she recalled. – He stopped going home for lunch, spent the weekend with his “geniuses”. He gained weight and became worse dressed… He surrounded himself with mediocre people. Pylone was the first of them, and little by little he changed my Maurizio. I realized this when Maurizio stopped sharing with me and started talking to me coldly. We stopped talking, coldness and indifference arose between us.

The one Maurizio called his Folletto rosso (red devil. – “RBC Style”)became strega piri-piri – a witch from children’s cartoons.

He stopped going home for lunch and spent the weekend with his “geniuses.” He gained weight and became worse dressed… He surrounded himself with mediocre people.

On Wednesday, May 22, 1985, Maurizio opened a wardrobe in his Milan penthouse and packed a small suitcase. He told Patricia that he was leaving for Florence for a couple of days, said goodbye to her and kissed her daughters, nine-year-old Alessandra and four-year-old Allegra. The next day they talked on the phone; nothing unusual seemed to be happening.

The next day, a doctor, a close friend of Maurizio’s, went to Patricia to say that Maurizio would not return for the weekend – and perhaps would not return at all. Patricia was shocked. The doctor tried to comfort her and even offered a bottle of Valium, which he took out of a small black briefcase. Both the doctor and the briefcase were immediately thrown out of the doorway. Patricia understood that she and Maurizio had grown cold to each other, but she could not imagine that her husband would abandon her and the children. A few days later, Susie, Patricia’s good friend, invited her to dinner and relayed another message from Maurizio.

“Patricia, Maurizio will not return home,” she said. “He asks you to pack a couple of suitcases with his things: he’ll send a driver to pick them up.” This is his last word.

“Tell me where to look,” Patricia said. “At least let him tell me in my face.”

In July, Maurizio called to arrange meetings with the children over the weekend. In September, he came home and invited Patricia to a Gucci-sponsored polo game, offering her the trophy. During the week he spent at home, the couple was finally able to discuss their relationship. He invited her to dinner at Santa Lucia, the cozy trattoria where their first dates took place.

“I need freedom!” Freedom! Freedom! He explained. – How can you not understand! At first my father told me what to do, and now you. In all my life I have never been free! In my youth I did not enjoy life, so now I want to do what I want.

Patricia listened to him in silence; the pizza on the table was cooling down. Maurizio explained that he did not move from her to another, he simply felt oppressed by her relentless criticism and desire to command.

“What kind of freedom do you need?” She finally replied. – Do you want to go kayaking in the Grand Canyon, buy a red Ferrari? Do what you want! Your family is your freedom!

Patricia couldn’t understand why Maurizio had the right to return home at three o’clock in the morning – he always fell asleep at eleven in front of the TV. She suspected that he was seduced by the excess of influence in the luxury trade and the respect he enjoyed from his new subordinates in the office.

“He was disturbed by my intellect,” she said afterward. – He wanted to be number one, and it seemed to him that he had found those who would give him this opportunity!

“Do as you know,” Patricia said coldly at last. “But don’t forget: you owe me and the children.”

She seemed icy and unperturbed, but her whole world was collapsing right in front of her eyes.

The couple agreed not to say anything to the children yet. Then Maurizio left. He first rented a house in Milan, on the tree-lined Foro Bonaparte, then moved to a small apartment in Piazza Belgioioso – although on his regular business trips he rarely spent the night there. He never came back for things: he just ordered new shirts, suits and shoes from Galleria Passarella.

Maurizio explained that he did not move from her to another, he simply felt oppressed by her relentless criticism and desire to command.

When Maurizio left home, Patricia found solace in an unexpected ally, a new friend from Naples named Pina Orimma. Patricia and Maurizio had met her many years before on the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples, in a spa resort known for its hot springs and mud baths. Pina came from a family of industrialists who worked in the food sector; Patricia found in her a lively and interesting interlocutor. For several years in a row, they spent all summer on Capri, where Pina helped Patricia choose a home. Pina’s Neapolitan sarcasm and wit, as well as her ability to guess at tarot cards, entertained Patricia for hours – and she found it easier to come to terms with Maurizio’s departure.

“Pina used to visit me every day on Capri,” Patricia recalled. – We talked for hours; she was witty and always amused me.

The women became close friends, and Pina often visited Patricia in Milan or accompanied her on trips. Patricia persuaded Maurizio to allow Pina to open the Gucci franchise in Naples: Pina ran her franchise for several years, then handed it over to a partner. When Allegra was born in 1981, Pina was nearby. And when Maurizio left home, it was Pine Patricia who rushed for consolation. When Patricia was so desperate that she was thinking of committing suicide, Pina dissuaded her.

“She was there when I was depressed,” Patricia said later. “She saved my life.”

And although Patricia felt great in the competitive environment of the society that awaited her in Milan, she could not relax in it and found not many friends whom she was ready to trust with all her heart. If she really wanted to speak out, she would turn to Pina. When the girlfriends were not around, they talked for hours on the phone.

“I believed her.” I didn’t have to follow her words, Patricia recalled. “I told her everything and I knew she wouldn’t gossip.”

In the first years after the breakup, Patricia and Maurizio still pretended to be spouses, pretending to be around, so sometimes they went out together. She dressed up when he came to visit his daughters, and when he left, she locked herself in a room, fell into bed, and cried for hours. Once a month, Maurizio transferred about 60 million lire (about $ 35,000) to Patricia’s bank account, but she still began to feel that everything she had achieved was slipping away from her. She kept the diaries from Cartier, which she bought every year: covered with dark calfskin with a small photo of Patricia herself on the cover. She began recording each of her encounters with Mau — she still called him that — and it became a real obsession.

A broken marriage was not Maurizio’s only problem. Aldo and his sons were not going to give up without a fight. In June 1985, they handed over to the authorities a detailed file with the names of the main witnesses, which indicated that Maurizio had forged his father’s signature on the share certificates in order not to pay inheritance tax. Aldo planned not to allow Maurizio to take over the company, showing him that he got his 50 percent into the business illegally.

The key name in this dossier was Roberta Cassol, who worked at Gucci for more than 20 years. She started as a simple saleswoman and climbed the career ladder until she became Rodolfo’s assistant. Cassol handled all of Rodolfo’s personal and business affairs, and after finishing his work in the office, spent long evenings with Rodolfo in his film studio in the basement, typing and typing the script of the film. When Rodolfo’s health deteriorated, Cassol often traveled with him to St. Moritz to help sort through letters and other papers, even when he could not come to the office himself.

In the first months after Rodolfo passed away, Cassol worked side by side with Maurizio, as he did with his father. When Maurizio outlined his plans to renovate the business, Cassol asked to be promoted to commercial director. However, their relationship deteriorated. For Maurizio Cassol was associated with his father and the past, he wanted to bring new people with fresh ideas, and he was looking for young and motivated professionals who would replace the old Gucci Guard and move the company to his dream. And Maurizio refused Cassol at her request.

“We need fresh air,” he said, pointing to the door. They quarreled and parted on a very bad note.

“It’s important in life to be able to count to ten,” Cassol remarked many years later, admitting that she hadn’t behaved in the best way during this quarrel. Then she was angry that after her many years of devotion to Rodolfo, his son simply did not find her a place in his new plans for the company.

“He couldn’t see anyone around him who reminded me of the past,” Cassol said.

Excerpt from Sarah Forden’s book The House of Gucci. A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamor and Greed “provided by Exmo Publishing House. The book is available at pre-order.

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