between safes, luxury buildings and Rolls Royces, three legacies that tell the story of Italian capitalism –

between safes, luxury buildings and Rolls Royces, three legacies that tell the story of Italian capitalism –

Of Mario Gerevini

Children, wives, spouses, grandchildren: this is how the three dynasties managed the “succession” in the empire. From bloody fights (Agnelli), diplomacy (Del Vecchio) and declared compromises (Berlusconi) we recreate the picture of the era here.

When more than 30 years ago the Ministry of Finance announced the 1989 Irpef declaration of the richest taxpayers, the first result was. Leonardo Del Vecchio and 13.4 billion lire (about 7 million euros) followed and Silvio Berlusconi 10.5 billion, only sixth place with 6.5 billion Gianni Agnelli who however other rankings showed as number one for personal wealth. “The three”, very different from each other in their personal and entrepreneurial stories, have remained the concept of wealth and success for decades. But jealously save some romantic gifts for the common man.

How else can you explain it among the assets left by Del Vecchio to his heirs, the presence of the Fiat QuboSmall workspace with lots of space, close to Rolls Royce Phantom, Lamborghini, super yachts etc? Until the age of 85, Berlusconi had a vintage 2006 Audi registered in his name. Agnelli’s wife, Marella Caracciolo, also left her personal inheritance to John, Lapo and Ginevra Elkann when she died in 2019. Ride a 4×4 from 2013. And a lawyer, president and controlling shareholder of Fiat, Alfa, Lancia, Ferrari etc., he was the owner of Punto four and a tractor.

Gianni Agnelli died at the age of 81 in 2003, Del Vecchio at the age of 87 in 2022, Berlusconi at the age of 86 in 2023. Property, industrial empires that were not created out of nothing (Silvio and Leonardo) or ruled for a long time (Gianni) today are heirs. A billion euros. It is not an easy transition when you move from a single leader to a coalition of relatives. how did it go Or maybe it would be better to say, how’s it going?

In one case (Agnelli) the series led to the dispersal of lawyers, court and affected bonds of mother and child. In the other (Del Vecchio) we travel to the edge of diplomacy clan to reach the finish line. In the third case (Berlusconi) five children (from two marriages) protested peacefully documenting and pragmatism of the Milanese practice that bequests, especially 100 million to Marta Fascina, made slip.


The deaths of Agnelli, Del Vecchio and Berlusconi have opened, with a series, the unknown light of their lives. Lawyer art collection, masterpieces of great value (Picasso, Bacon, Monet, De Chirico, Balthus, Balla etc.) in which a small quarrel developed into a great quarrel, was not known; now we know what was hanging in the dining room and kitchen. But that’s not where most of the paintings ended up.

And we also know, “thanks” to the papers shown in court by his daughter Margherita, that The former president of Fiat had islands of companies in tax zones where hundreds of millions were in circulation, he was far from bad money.
Del Vecchio had a passion for luxury cars. Of Silvio Berlusconi, x-rayed, released, changed in life, we thought we knew everything but here comes a huge gallery of works of art, 25 thousand pieces, scabs more than anything else.
(Sgarbi dixit), most of them were bought directly from teleshopping, he is the founder of Publitalia, the theorist and master of mobile advertising who personally calls the operator on duty… The virtues and weaknesses of the life of three people lived to the fullest . Let’s open the series book.

The Battle of the Lambs

On Sunday 24 January 2003 at 9 am Ansa announced the news: “Lawyer Giovanni Agnelli died, according to institutional sources, around 8 am this morning in his room at Villa Frescot, a residence on the hill of Turin. By his side was his wife Marella and his daughter Margherita with her children, including John, heir-elect”. Here are two protagonists, willingly (Margherita, age 68) or unwillingly (John, 47), of the war of succession.

The younger nephew had already entered the capital of Dicembre, a safe company at the top of the Exor group which today has large shares in Stellantis, Ferrari, CNH, Juventus, Philips etc. with a total value of almost 35 billion. Margherita is the only daughter of Gianni and Marella
after the suicide in 2000 of her brother Edoardo at the age of 46, and she is the mother of eight children: three children Elkann had at a very young age (between 20 and 24 years) in her first marriage with Alain Elkann. and de Pahlen’s five children with her second husband, Serge de Pahlen.

When Gianni Agnelli dies, Fiat is in serious financial trouble. Margherita leaves the series signing two agreements on February 18, 2004 in Geneva: a settlement agreement on the inheritance of the father and an inheritance agreement in which he rejects the future inheritance of the mother. Inheritance contracts that are prohibited in Italy. He amasses around 1.3 billion in property, artwork and wealth.

But in 2007 he launched a court attack. He claims that most of his father’s assets, especially abroad, were hidden from him. He accuses the professionals close to the parent and, in addition, the mother. He loses all the way to the Supreme Court. Mom died in 2019 and left everything to Elkann’s three grandchildren, by will. Margherita, together with her children, de Pahlen also attacks Marella’s inheritance in the court of Turin, claiming that the will is false, hires a group of investigators who examine the years of the private life of the mother to show that she was a resident of Italy and not Switzerland. .

The document, and here we are in the final chapter (for now), arrives at the Turin Prosecutor’s Office in the form of a criminal complaint. The goal: to bring down the whole inheritance system because in Italy inheritance contracts, as we said, are prohibited. Now two very contradictory arguments. The first: after 17 years of legal battles, not a single decision went in Margherita’s favor. The second: the person who signed two inheritance contracts in 2004 was a woman at the peak of her faculties, free to decide, rich enough to be able to afford lawyers and the best advisers as it happened, and to decide, Fiat in the difficulty of getting money. Then he reversed course.

Del Vecchio’s Diplomacy

Monday 27 June 2022 at 10 am Ansa reports the news: “Leonardo Del Vecchio, founder of Luxottica and current president of EssilorLuxottica, died this morning in San Raffaele where he was hospitalized. The entrepreneur was 87 years oldof”. In those 87 years, from the beginning he created an empire of eyewear with Luxottica and then merged with Essilor of France. In addition to the shares of EssilorLuxottica (32% held by Delfin of Luxembourg at the current price is worth more than 27 billion euros ) in the inheritance there is property. including “La Leonina” in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, one of the most beautiful Belle Époque buildings on the French Riviera.and then the boat, works of art including a large collection of Venetian views of the eighteenth century, securities, eight current accounts in five banks and nearly 17 million in balance, Rolls Royce Phantom, Lamborghini Urus and Fiat Qubo.

There is also the Moneikos yacht, 62 meters, one of the largest luxury yachts in the world.placed in Leadership and which costs like 10 Ferraris every year to drive alone. It is sold for 27.9 million. The Rolls, however, was bought for 425,000 euros by one of the six children, 28-year-old Leonardo Maria. “I will never leave such a big company to a child,” Del Vecchio said in 2016 in an interview with Courier

“I wouldn’t give him this sentence. We need a team of young managers: the best of them will provide continuity.”

The series involves six heirs (children, the youngest 19 years old, the oldest 67) each with 12.5% ​​of Delfin (worth 3.4 billion) and two representatives to whom Leonardo left 25% (widow Nicoletta Zampillo and Rocco Basilico , a child from his previous marriage). But the procedure is stuck on the tax that should be paid (56 million) for Essilux shares (worth 270 million) he received as a legacy from the right-handed starter, Francesco Milleri, the group’s number one at the moment, and from manager Romolo Bardin. Who pays them? A chapter of thorns that divided the family. Legal diplomacy is at work. And the legacy never ends.

The “Berlusconi” way

On Monday 12 June 2023 at 10.34 am Ansa announced the news: “Silvio Berlusconi died at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan where he had been admitted since last Friday. The Fi leader was 86 years old. This was reported by sources close to the family.” Five children from two wives, a group worth 5 billion. Marina and Pier Silvio hold the reins of Fininvest, the parent company, and Mediaset, the main operating company.

Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi are more isolated and have several investments in high-tech companies. They are all shareholders of Fininvest. The opening of the will is highly anticipated because the former prime minister has 61% of Fininvest and, according to the law, access to decide who to distribute a third of that share. “I leave what is available – in equal parts to my children Marina and Pier Silvio. I leave to my five children everything else in equal parts….».

It is an option to continue with stability: control of the hold goes to the first two children. The entire property is divided into 52% (Marina and Pier Silvio) and 48% (the other three), even family villas: Arcore, Macherio, and Certosa in Sardinia. The Knight also arranged three wills: 100 million to Marta Fascina, 100 to her brother Paolo and 30 to Marcello Dell’Utri. His will be fulfilled: his children should pay 230 million from their inheritance. On September 11, three months after saying goodbye to his father, the series was closed. And the villas, except Arcore, are now for sale. Certosa is the main part of the market. The evening will probably go to Barbara. Without tears, with compromise.


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February 25, 2024 (revised February 25, 2024 | 2.31 pm)