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The Outrageous True Story Behind the Film House of Gucci | Time

the explosive family drama at the center of ridley scott’s gucci house is so over the top that it’s reasonable to assume the film is the result of a very active imagination. in the film, out of November. on february 24, the marriage of patrizia reggiani (lady gaga) and maurizio gucci (adam driver) implodes as the family business, the house of gucci, begins to crumble under the pressure of infighting and cultural change, culminating in the shocking murder of maurizio. .

but in the case of house of gucci, truth is truly stranger than fiction. The film was adapted from journalist Sara Gay Forden’s 2001 non-fiction book of the same name, which chronicles the sensational real-life story of the rise and fall of the fabulously wealthy Gucci family as one of the most prominent dynasties in history. fashion. The story, which includes successive rivalries between family members, multiple trials, tax evasion, imprisonment and, of course, murder, provided ample creative fodder for Scott and screenwriters Roberto Bentivegna and Becky Johnston.

Reading: What is the movie house of gucci about

Although the story is based on real people and events, some elements were changed for the film: intentional choices on Bentivegna’s part, who drew inspiration for the script from flashy movies like Sunset Boulevard, Scarface, and The Godfather.

“I always wanted this to feel like the audience was watching a movie,” he says to time. “I didn’t want it to feel like it was an almost realistic drama or some kind of kitchen sink, I really wanted to feel elevated, really bold and operatic.”

To do this, Bentivegna supplemented his use of Forden’s text with contemporary Italian articles on the Gucci family’s public dramas, which he said took on a “sensationalist sensationalism,” especially around the murder of Maurizio, which he later it was revealed as a crime of passion, organized by the patrizia herself.

The element of sensationalism is not lost on Forden, who began writing about the Gucci family drama as a senior business correspondent for WWD, later drawing on his years of reporting to pen his book.

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“If I had made up the story as if it were a novel, no one would have believed it,” he says to time. but it was all true. it is a timeless story. there are lessons in it, like that blood must be thicker than water. And unfortunately, in this case, it wasn’t.”

Here’s what you need to know about the real story behind the House of Gucci.

what you need to know about the gucci family

The fashion house Gucci began as a luxury luggage brand founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci. Guccio was inspired to create his business after a stint working as a bellhop at the Savoy Hotel in London and a gig working for a luxury train travel company. Guccio opened his first store in Florence in 1921, offering fine leather luggage and accessories, as well as leather goods for horsemen. Guccio’s small store soon became a thriving family business with many stores in different cities and countries, especially after four of his sons (Vasco, Aldo, Rodolfo and Ugo, who was Guccio’s adoptive stepson from the previous relationship of his wife) began to work with him. After Guccio’s death in 1953, the company’s shares remained in the hands of his three biological sons, Vasco, Rodolfo and Aldo. looming sibling rivalries between the brothers turned into feuds that continued into the next generation, helping lead to the downfall of the gucci family in the fashion industry.

The conflict came to a head after Rodolfo Gucci’s death in 1983, leaving his son Maurizio a majority stake in the company, which was floundering under Aldo’s leadership. Maurizio, who felt that Aldo’s approach of championing the mass production of Gucci products cheapened Gucci’s identity as a luxury brand, spent most of the 1980s trying to put it out of business through legal battles and take over. of the company. The family fight during this time was ugly and in the public eye: Aldo served a year in prison for tax evasion and Maurizio fled to Switzerland after being accused of forging his father’s signature to avoid paying inheritance taxes (although originally convicted, he was later acquitted). By 1989, Maurizio had managed to take control of the company and was determined to renew his image. However, in 1993, Maurizio’s excessive spending and outstanding company debts forced him to sell his 50% stake to company investors, ending Maurizio’s ownership and control of the brand. the gucci family.

Forden says that while the end of the Gucci family dynasty in fashion may be one of the most dramatic incidents in the industry’s history, it was part of a larger trend for Italian fashion during that time, which also affected family-owned companies such as prada, versace and armani, which were struggling to transition from their respective small family-owned boutiques to internationally recognized mega-brands.

“gucci tells the story of many family businesses that were struggling to get to the next level and struggling with these succession issues,” he says. “Obviously they were challenges in transformation to the next level and gucci exemplified that in the most extreme and dramatic way. but i was really moved and motivated by maurizio gucci himself, who was on this mission to relaunch his family business to restore it to the highest level of the luxury market.”

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forden also noted that while maurizio was unable to retain control or ownership of gucci, he foretold the future of many of these fashion brands and became the first to attract a financial shareholder to take the brand to the next level.

what you need to know about patrizia reggiani

Although Patrizia Reggiani was not born a Gucci, her name looms large in the family’s history. Born Patrizia Martinelli, the future “Lady Gucci,” as she would be nicknamed during her heyday, she grew up poor and not knowing her biological father. When she was 12 years old, her mother married Ferdinando Reggiani, a wealthy businessman, who adopted Patrizia as his own. When she came of age, Patrizia was a socialite in Milan, but despite her stepfather’s wealth, she was not necessarily part of Milan’s high society. According to Forden, Patrizia’s mother hoped that her daughter could gain the family’s entry into these social circles.

patrizia found the opportunity to join milan’s elite circles after meeting maurizio at a party in 1970, where he was reportedly struck by his resemblance to elizabeth taylor.

“I met Maurizio at a party and he fell madly in love with me,” Reggiani told the Guardian in a 2016 interview. “It was exciting and different.”

what you need to know about the marriage and divorce of patrizia and maurizio

Maurizio and Patrizia were married in 1972, after dating for two years, but the union caused a rupture in the family. Maurizio’s father, Rodolfo, did not approve of Reggiani’s social background and believed her to be a social climber and chose not to attend the couple’s wedding. Rodolfo later reconciled with his son and daughter-in-law after the birth of his first daughter, Alessandra, in 1976 (the couple had a second daughter, Allegra, in 1981) and even gifted them a luxury penthouse in the new york olympic tower, where they lived while maurizio worked for the family business with aldo.

During the early years of their marriage, Maurizio and Patrizia were active on the New York social scene, often socializing with the likes of Jackie Kennedy Onassis and known for their ostentatious and extravagant lifestyles; The couple was known for being driven around Manhattan in a car with a personalized license plate bearing their merged partner’s name, “Mauizia,” and had a yacht and vacation homes in Saint Moritz, Acapulco, and Connecticut.

patrizia wielded enormous influence over maurizio in all aspects, including his dealings with gucci. According to Bentivegna, Maurizio may have longed for Patrizia’s guidance because he grew up an only child whose mother died when he was very young; By all accounts, Patrizia was well aware that Maurizio’s personality was more shy than hers.

“[patrizia] said it was like a chair that takes the shape of whoever sits on it,” she says. “So she, as an incredibly sharp and cynical manipulator, knew she had putty on her hands, and she could really mold it and play with it, but I think it came from a place of love.”

The couple’s marital problems began in 1983, after Maurizio received a majority stake in the company following the death of his father and tried to take over the company by starting a legal war to oust his uncles. In an interview with The Guardian, Patrizia stated that during this time, “Maurizio went crazy. until then i was his main adviser on all gucci matters. but he wanted to be the best and stopped listening to me.”

In the midst of the dispute with the family business, Maurizio suddenly broke off his relationship with Patrizia. In 1985, after the family moved to Milan, Maurizio took a business trip to Florence, then sent a friend to tell Patrizia that she was not coming back and that her marriage was over. Maurizio began living with Paola Franchi, a childhood friend, in 1991, inciting Patrizia’s jealousy. In 1994, the couple officially divorced, and Patrizia received a €2.5 million divorce settlement and an annual €650,000 alimony payment, which she memorably compared to “a simple bowl of lentils”. Although she lost her legal right to use the Gucci surname in the divorce, Ella Patrizia continued to do so anyway; In an interview with the republic, she noted lightly: “I still feel like a gucci, in fact, the most gucci of all.”

what really happened to maurizio gucci?

On the morning of March 27, 1995, Maurizio was shot several times outside his office in Milan. He died on the steps of the building in the arms of Giuseppe Onorato, the doorman and only witness to the shooting, who was also shot. Ella Patrizia was not arrested until 1997, two years after Ella’s murder, after police detectives received an anonymous tip. It was later discovered that on the day of Maurizio’s murder, Patrizia wrote a word in her diary, “paradeisos”, paradise in Greek.

What happened in Patrizia’s trial and sentencing?

patrizia’s trial was a flashy and highly publicized affair, thanks to the high profile of the gucci family in italy. she was nicknamed the “black widow”, a nickname that she carried more weight once she began her trial. During the trial, where Patrizia vehemently claimed that she was innocent, the prosecution played tapes of threatening and threatening voicemails that Patrizia had sent to Maurizio and Paola, while the defense maintained that Patrizia was mentally unstable due to a 1992 operation to remove a brain tumor, which they alleged altered his personality. However, three of the people involved in the plan (Pina Auriemma, Patrizia’s friend and personal astrologer; Orazio Cicala, the getaway driver; and Ivano Savioni, the man who hired the hit man and the driver) confessed not only their participation in the murder, but the role of patrizia in its organization. Both Patrizia and the hitman who shot Maurizio, Benedetto Ceraulo, have denied their charges.

in november 1998, patrizia was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to 29 years in prison, although she only served 18. patrizia could have had a shorter stay in milan’s san vittore prison, where she was allowed to have a pet ferret, and was eligible for parole in 2011, but declined, opting to remain in jail, rather than join a work release program.

“I’ve never worked in my life,” he was reported to have said in court. “I won’t start now.”

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patrizia was released in 2016 for good behavior and now works as a consultant for a jewelery company in milan, where she has been seen shopping with a parrot on her shoulder. She has since acknowledged her role in Maurizio’s murder, telling an Italian reality show when asked why she didn’t shoot her ex-husband herself: “My eyesight isn’t that good. I didn’t want to lose myself.”

As for Patrizia’s thoughts on adapting her life to the big screen, she’s upset that Lady Gaga didn’t consult her for the film.

“I am quite upset that lady gaga plays me in ridley scott’s new movie without having the consideration and sensitivity to come and meet me,” he told ansa, an Italian news service. However, Bentivegna isn’t convinced that Patrizia isn’t a little impressed that the movie was made.

“I think Patrizia is going to love the movie and I think she’s thrilled that it’s being made,” he says. “I think she’s incredibly flattered that Lady Gaga is playing her because she’s, to put it mildly, she’s self-absorbed.”

what the gucci family has to say about the film adaptation of house of gucci

Following the film’s release, Aldo Gucci’s family issued a statement on ANSA, criticizing the film for showing “a narrative that is far from accurate.” In the statement, the Gucci family criticized the film’s production for not consulting them before portraying Aldo and the rest of the family on screen. They also took issue with the film’s depiction of Patrizia Reggiani as a sort of feminist foil to the company’s male leadership. Variety reported via an anonymous source that despite the stern statement, the Gucci family is not seeking legal action against the Scott or Warner Bros production company.

read the full statement, translated from Italian, below.

the gucci family takes note of the premiere of the film “house of gucci” with some bewilderment because, although the work claims to want to tell the “true story” of the family, the fears raised by the trailers and interviews released so far, are confirmed: the film has a narrative that is far from accurate.

the production of the film did not bother to consult the heirs before branding aldo gucci -president of the company for 30 years- and the members of the gucci family as thugs, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them, attributing notes to the protagonists, facts, tones and attitudes that never belonged to them. this is extremely painful from a human point of view and an insult to the legacy the brand is built on today.

even more reprehensible is the reconstruction that becomes mystifying on the verge of paradox when it comes to suggesting indulgent tones towards a woman who, definitively condemned for having been the instigator of the murder of maurizio gucci, is not painted only in the film , but also in the statements of the cast members, as a victim trying to survive in a masculine and macho corporate culture.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. moreover, in its 70-year history as a family business, gucci was an inclusive company. in fact, precisely in the 1980s, the historical context in which the film takes place, women occupied different main positions: whether they were members of the family or outsiders, they included the president of gucci america, the head of global pr & ; communication and member of the board of directors of gucci america.

gucci is a family that lives honoring the work of its ancestors, whose memory does not deserve to be bothered to stage a film that is not true and does not do justice to its protagonists.

members of the gucci family reserve all rights to protect the name, image and dignity of their loved ones.

write to cady lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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