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These days, Patrizia Reggiani leads a modest life. After spending nearly 20 years locked away in the San Vittore Prison, Patrizia now lives in Milan with her elderly mother, who she says berates her daily and makes her long for her days behind bars. But Patrizia carries with her the memory of a past life of unimaginable wealth, luxury, and endless exhilaration. For she isn’t simply Patrizia Reggiani; she’s Patrizia Reggiani Gucci, the ex-wife of the heir to the Gucci family, a man she had killed.
Before she was played by Lady Gaga in "House of Gucci", Patrizia was married to Maurizio Gucci for 12 years. The fashionable couple had two daughters, Allegra and Alessandra, and gallivanted across the globe. From Milan to New York, Switzerland to Connecticut, the pair lived fast and spent money faster. Their relationship turned sour, though, when Maurizio became entangled in a family dispute and decided to sell off the family business. Soon after, he announced he was going on a last minute “business trip” — with his young mistress. He filed for divorce soon after.
Patrizia vowed retribution. When Maurizio offered her a divorce settlement of $3 million plus $850,000 per year, she dismissed it as “a mere bowl of lentils," according to The Guardian. The money represented so much more to Patrizia than just the means to buy expensive clothing and fine jewelry; it represented independence. The Gucci brand had become her entire identity, and she was enraged at the thought of losing her sense of self in this divorce.
With her agency slipping away, Patrizia saw only one option: take out the one person standing in the way of her happiness. She went to her longtime clairvoyant, Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma, for advice. Giuseppina suggested she try murder. A hitman was hired the next day.
March 27, 1995 seemed like an ordinary day to Maurizio Gucci. He arrived at his private office in Milan, just as he had done hundreds of times before. He was almost to the door when gunfire rang out. Struck by four bullets, Maurizio collapsed in the entryway. He died in the arms of his doorman.
But Pina soon sold Patrizia out to the Italian police, and a bizarre murder trial followed soon after. It captivated Italy, the fashion industry, and the world at large. Patrizia — now known as the Black Widow — was sentenced to 26 years in prison.
Patrizia’s time in jail was even more peculiar than her trial. “I slept a lot,” she recalled to the Guardian. “I took care of my plants. I looked after Bambi, my pet ferret.” Patrizia faired pretty well during her time in prison, though the same cannot be said for Bambi; Patrizia’s beloved ferret died when an inmate accidentally sat on him.
After 14 years, Patrizia was granted an early release on the condition that she find a job. She opted to stay in jail, reportedly explaining to her lawyer, “I’ve never worked in my life and I don’t intend to start now.” Two years later, though, Patrizia decided enough was enough. It was time to leave prison and re-enter the real world, even if it was less fabulous than when she left it 16 years before.
She has re-entered the fashion world by staging expensive shopping trips for paparazzi, working as a consultant at a luxury jewelry company, parading around Paris Fashion Week with her pet parrot on her shoulder, and generally rubbing the world’s nose in her unapologetic existence.
Her brashness can be summed up by an exchange she had with a paparazzo shortly after her release. When asked why she hired a hitman to kill Maurizio and didn’t just kill him herself, Stylecaster reports that she said: “My eyesight is not so good, I didn’t want to miss.”
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