Gucci heir shot dead at Milan office

Maurizio Gucci, heir to the Italian fashion family that has clothed and shod the famous since the turn of the century, was shot dead yesterday morning in the lobby of his office building in central Milan, in the most violent episode yet in a long-running family saga of ambition and betrayal.

A lone gunman - impeccably dressed - followed the 45-year-old Gucci into the building of his private investment company on the Via Palestro and shot him in the back as he was walking up the first flight of stairs. Gucci turned around to face his attacker, only to be cut down by two bullets to the head. On his way out, the assassin also shot and wounded the concierge, Giuseppe Onorato. He then jumped into a green Renault Clio in which an accomplice was waiting behind the wheel.

The staid, dependable reputation of Gucci's leather handbags and shoes, instantly recognisable by their entwined double-G motif, hides a stormy history of family feuds and splits stretching back to the company's foundation in 1904.

Maurizio spent much of the Eighties locked in battle with his cousins for control of the firm, which he finally won, only to be forced to sell out to a Gulf Arab investment bank in 1993 because of mounting debts.

Nicknamed JR after the charismatic villain in Dallas, he had been the subject of several judicial investigations into his finances, and was said to be worth £100m.

When the public prosecutor, Carlo Nocerino, asked journalists yesterday to hold back their natural urge to speculate about a motive for the crime, he might as well have been asking television audiences a decade ago not to wonder who shot JR. There may have been no immediate indication of who Gucci's murderer was, but it was not for lack of suspects.

In the early Eighties, Maurizio made enemies of virtually all his relations as he wrested control of the family business from his cousins. It was a bitter feud, in which more than one family member threatened to blackmail the others by revealing embarrassing information.

Maurizio suffered from this vendetta more than most, fleeing to Switzerland as he was put under judicial investigation for fraudulent share-dealing and the illicit creation of front companies in Caribbean tax havens.

He was found guilty of forging his father's signature to avoid inheritance tax, but fought back and eventually cleared his name in the appeal courts. But that was far from the end of his troubles. The international Gucci group he returned to at the end of the Eighties was divided and steeped in debt. Although Maurizio managed to square with his cousins and avert a permanent schism, in 1993 he lost financial control to a Bahrain-based bank, Investcorp, a well-known raider of prestige companies including Tiffany's and the failed Paris jewellery house of Chaumet.

The shame of selling one of Italy's proudest trademarks to an Arab company was not without its compensations. At the time of his death, Maurizio was acting as a senior adviser to Investcorp's chairman, Nemir Kirdar, and managing his own fortune through a company called Viersee Spa. A quiet life, by Maurizio's standards, but not without its hazards.

Investigators will have an array of colourful characters to question, including Maurizio's cousin Paolo, the "black sheep", who played a part in seeing his own father jailed for tax evasion, and is himself wanted in the United States for failing to pay a divorce settlement.We can expect several months of suspense and perhaps some surprise revelations.

Obituary, page 12

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you looking to take your ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Exciting career prospect for ...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935