Fiat magnate Agnelli's only son found dead at Bridge of Suicides

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The Independent Online

The body of Edoardo Agnelli, only son of the Fiat patriarch, Gianni Agnelli, was discovered yesterday beneath a viaduct on the outskirts of Turin.

The body of Edoardo Agnelli, only son of the Fiat patriarch, Gianni Agnelli, was discovered yesterday beneath a viaduct on the outskirts of Turin.

Mr Agnelli, 46, who had a history of drug abuse, is believed to have fallen 250ft from the viaduct, which is known locally as the Bridge of Suicides.

His car, a Fiat Croma, was on the bridge. Giovanni Agnelli, the 79-year-old honorary chairman of Fiat and head of the Agnelli dynasty, known to all Italians as Gianni or "l'Avvocato" (lawyer), identified his son at the scene.

Three years ago, Giovanni Alberto Agnelli, nephew to Gianni and heir to the Italian car giant, died at 33 after a dignified, silent battle with stomach cancer.

New York-born Edoardo, a graduate in oriental literature and philosophy, never worked at the Turin industrial giant. He led a sheltered life, shunning the limelight surrounding Italy's immensely wealthy and most powerful family, and spending much time in India and Africa. Italian media reports said he was detained by police in Kenya 10 years ago for possessing marijuana but freed without charges.

He said in a January 1998 newspaper interview he had no intention of serving on the carmaker's board. "I've never considered becoming a manager and, if they had asked me to sit on the board, I would have said no, that I'm not suitable," he said.

Last night Alan Friedman, a biographer who wrote a no-holds-barred portrait of the family and its empire Agnelli and the Network of Italian Power, said: "This is above all a profound human tragedy.

"I do not know if this was a suicide or not, but Edoardo led a troubled, introspective and ascetic life."

His death "would certainly have an emotional impact on Italy because of the Agnelli family's unique standing. The Agnelli family is, in Italy, of a stature that one would place it with the Kennedy family in the US, or Britain's Royal Family. It makes Gianni the uncrowned king of Italy.

"This death really has no bearing or impact on the business of the Fiat group."

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