Italian ‘black widow’ who hired a hitman to kill her Gucci heir ex-husband

An Italian socialite sentenced to 26 years in jail for ordering the execution of her multi-millionaire Gucci heir ex-husband has admitted she ‘didn’t think she would be caught’.

Patrizia Reggiani, nicknamed the ‘Black Widow’, was found guilty of paying a hit man €300,000 (£240,000) to murder 46–year–old Maurizio Gucci, an heir to the fashion empire, in 1995.

He had left her for another woman 10 years previously after telling her he was going on a short business trip.

Murder for hire: Patrizia Reggiani, nicknamed the ‘Black Widow’, was found guilty of paying a hit man €300,000 (£240,000) to murder 46–year–old Maurizio Gucci, an heir to the fashion empire, in 1995. She has now admitted she ‘didn’t think she’d get caught’. Pictured, in 2019

Resentment: Reggiani was reportedly furious that Gucci had started seeing other women. Pictured, the couple before their marriage broke down in 1985

Resentment: Reggiani was reportedly furious that Gucci had started seeing other women. Pictured, the couple before their marriage broke down in 1985

Reggiani, who will be played by Lady Gaga in an upcoming feature film about the murder-for-hire, was reportedly furious that Gucci had started seeing other women and was frustrated with how he managed his $170million fortune.

She also wanted more than the $650,000 she had been offered in a divorce settlement, the court heard.

Speaking in the Discovery+ documentary Lady Gucci – The story of Patrizia Reggiani, released on Monday, Reggiani, 72, said she ‘asked everyone’ if they had the ‘courage to murder’ her ex-husband, the Daily Telegraph reports.

She said: ‘I was furious with Maurizio. I went around asking everyone, even the local grocer, is there someone who has the courage to murder my husband? I can’t aim a gun very well – I couldn’t have done it myself.’

Reggiani eventually found hitman Benedetto Ceraulo, a debt-ridden pizzeria owner who shot Gucci dead on the steps of his office in Milan as he arrived for work. Ceraulo was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

It took police two years to work out who had ordered the killing. ‘I didn’t think they’d catch me,’ Reggiani admits in the documentary.

Reggiani at her husband's funeral

Reggiani, will be played by Lady Gaga (right) in an upcoming feature film about the murder-for-hire. Left, Reggiani at her ex-husband's 1995 funeral, days after she had him shot

Reggiani, will be played by Lady Gaga (right) in an upcoming feature film about the murder-for-hire. Left, Reggiani at her ex-husband’s 1995 funeral, days after she had him shot

High profile: During the murder trial, which transfixed Italy, Reggiani arrived each day wearing head-to-toe Gucci clothes and accessories. She was sentenced in 1998 (pictured)

High profile: During the murder trial, which transfixed Italy, Reggiani arrived each day wearing head-to-toe Gucci clothes and accessories. She was sentenced in 1998 (pictured)

The Gucci empire

The fashion empire of Gucci was founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci, a Florentine leather merchant whose business of selling leather travel bags prospered after the Depression and World War Two.

Guccio’s son Aldo expanded the business into Paris, New York and Tokyo as the ‘twin Gs’ of the family name became a worldwide fashion icon.

By 1974, the Gucci empire numbered 14 stores and 46 franchised boutiques around the world.

At around the same time, celebrities like Jackie Kennedy were helping establish Gucci as the world’s leading fashion brand by embracing its products.

Maurizio Gucci, Guccio’s grandson and Aldo’s nephew, took control of the company from the board of directors after Aldo, who was sent to prison for tax evasion in 1986 aged 81.

However, Maurizio would be the last member of the family to head the Gucci business.

By 1989, nearly 50 per cent of the business had been bought out by Investcorp, a group of investment bankers angling for shares of the business.

In 1993, Maurizio sold his holding for $170m to a Bahrain-based investment company.

She was convicted after her clairvoyant and confidante Pina Auriemma turned informer and told police about the plot.

During the murder trial, which transfixed Italy, Reggiani arrived each day wearing head-to-toe Gucci clothes and accessories.

The court heard how she had ordered the murder of her husband after he offered her $650,000 in a divorce settlement.

She described the offer as a ‘plate of lentils’, insisting she wanted at least $1 million, and when he refused she hired hitman Benedetto Ceraulo. She was also said to be furious her former husband had started seeing other women, and feared her daughters’ inheritance was at risk if he remarried before ordering the hit.

Reggiani was initially sentenced to 29 years in 1998, which was reduced to 26 on appeal. She served 18 – with her pet ferret Bambi as a companion for some of the time – before being released in October 2014.

In the documentary, Reggiani describes her time behind bars as ‘peaceful’.

‘I was absolutely fine in prison,’ she said. ‘For me they were years of peace. I slept, I worked in the garden.’

Well-known for her luxury lifestyle, Reggiani once said: ‘I’d rather cry in a Rolls than be happy on a bicycle’ and turned down the offer of day release while in prison because it would have meant doing ‘menial’ work.

In 2017 a court ruled Reggiani was entitled to receive £900,000 a year from her ex-husband’s fortune.

Maurizio Gucci was the grandson of Guccio Gucci, founder of the fashion company made famous with its double G logo.

In the early 1990s it was hit by problems and he sold the label for $120 million, just two years before his death.

Lady Gaga is set to star as Reggiani in a feature film about the murder-for-hire.

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