Patrizia Gucci: The True Gucci Story


Eden Aulov

House of Gucci, a dazzling film starring the likes of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, burst into theaters on November 24, 2021 with a promise of a redemption to a certain socialite. Portraying the side of the Italian powerhouse, Lady Gaga delivered a performance that asked viewers to dig deep in their hearts, find the sympathy Patrizia, the wife of Gucci head Maurizio Gucci, truly deserved. However, even Patrizia herself slammed the portrayal- sympathy is not deserved for a murderer.

Patrizia Reganni and Maurizio Gucci married on October 28, 1972, two years after having met, despite protest from Maurizio’s father over the marriage. Growing up poor, Patrizia was drawn to the drama and wealth of Maurizio’s lavish lifestyle, sparking rumors throughout their relationship of doubt over the fact that Patrizia even loved her husband, or married him for his life instead of his person. His father, head of Gucci, called her a social climber who had nothing in mind but money, yet gifted them a lavish penthouse in New York as a wedding gift in the end.

Patrizia’s love for Maurizio is widely debated. It seems as though she truly believed she held love for him at that moment in her life, however the truth remains that she held love for the life she was living instead. Perhaps it was psychological, as a way of allowing her addiction to the stark contrast between her poor childhood and this incredible adulthood to be fulfilled. However, a longtime companion of Maurizio, some couldn’t help but ponder that maybe in her heart, she did hold some fondness for her husband. Before Maurizio’s father, Rodolfo, died, he warned his daughter in law about what was to come: “Once he gets money and power, he will change. You will find you are married to another man.” 

The thing most important to understand about Patrizia is that, in essence, she simply was Gucci. The prestige, grandeur, and class associated with the brand today are what Patrizia embodied. Most important to her, above all, was the success of their empire, even though she had only married into the family. Arguably, however, she was the most devoted to the brand out of all the family members the company was divided up by. 

The Guccis were good at achieving, but not the best at preserving. Once they built up their brand during the World Wars, they began being radical, making hasty decisions without proper thought, being careless, etc. When Rodolfo died, Gucci was in the red, and it was mostly on the shoulders of Maurizio to decide how to bring the brand to the top again. As previously said, Patrizia was obsessed with the wellbeing of Gucci. In her support for Maurizio, she became almost smothering- turning him against “disrespectful” family members, advising him on various prospects, and overall burrowing her nose deep into the Gucci brand at a time Maurizio, under a lot of stress, did not welcome her enthusiastic, passionate advances on the brand which carried his name and father’s legacy. 

As a result, Maurizio began acting more distant. He became much less attentive to his wife and two children, more detached in conversations, and was barely ever at home. “He stopped coming home for lunch… He gained weight and dressed badly,” Patrizia later remembered. “Maurizio stopped telling me things, his tone grew detached. We spoke less. We grew cold and impassive with each other.” 

One day, Maurizio packed a bag and drove off to Florence. He sent a friend to tell Patrizia, without divorce papers, without prior notice, that he was not coming back. He had abandoned her and their two children, in Patrizia’s eyes. One thing that led up to this was certainly the seven year affair he had with a woman by the name of Sheree McLaughlin. Whereas Patrizia was focused on the lavish lifestyle and prestige, Sheree was more down to Earth, enjoying sailing and not caring about the lavishness of Maurizio’s life. In fact, upon their first meeting, she did not even know who he was until about a month in. Maurizio felt as if he was “alive again.” Compared to the said smothering of his wife, the carefreeness displayed by this young, sunny, new woman was something incredibly enticing to the head of Gucci, who, understandably, was tired of all the control he’d been facing all his life- first, from his father, then, by his wife. Later, he would go on to date Paola Franchi, even moving in with her.

Patrizia grew radical with rage. She would phone their apartments, threatening to kill Maurizio, have outbursts of rage in private, and even confided in her best friend, Pina Auriemma, about the suicidal depression she was experiencing as a result of the sudden 180 her life had taken. This seems like a clear answer for the matter of whether Patrizia Gucci loved her husband or not, seeing as their divorce had thrown her into such a spiral. But, key to this, Maurizio went insane with newfound freedom. Like a child faced with rights for the first time, he went crazy with no thumb to be under any longer. First, he cut all of his family members out of the Gucci business, one by one, cleverly, and by law, until he remained a huge shareholder. With the cash made from this, Maurizio went on a huge shopping spree, spending money right and left on both material objects and hiring various people. Notable mentions include aspiring designer Tom Ford, who later revolutionized Gucci into the name brand it is today and Dawn Mello, a retail executive legendary for turning various brands around, who worked with Ford to restore the Gucci name after Maurizio’s passing. Maurizio, however, gambled away all his money on these lavish spendings, resulting in him losing his share in the Gucci enterprise. The family business was no more. This was the last straw for Patrizia. 

On March 27th, 1995, Maurizio was shot three times in the temple by an assassin. The doorman of his building was also injured, but held Maurizio in his arms as he passed. Three hours later, Patrizia showed up at his apartment with a filing of a legal claim to her ex-husband’s apartment and a desire to kick out his girlfriend and young children. At his funeral, she showed up wearing a classy black veil and oversized black sunglasses, telling reporters, “On a human level, I am sorry. On a personal level, I can’t say the same thing.”

Looking at the evidence now, it is clear Patrizia orchestrated the killing of Maurizio. Often, she would call with death threats, even once having a cassette tape of her saying, “Maurizio, I am not going to give you a minute of peace… You are a painful appendage that we all want to forget… the inferno for you is yet to come” hand delivered to him. In her journal, she wrote, “Vendetta is not just for the downtrodden but also for the angels. Get your revenge because you are right.” After he was killed, she wrote one single word in her journal in Greek: paradise. 

On January 31st, 1997, Patrizia was arrested and accused of orchestrating Maurizio’s murder. Her motive was a mix of things, involving primarily jealousy and resentment, as well as prohibiting Maurizio from marrying Paola, which would have cut her alimony in half, reducing it to $860,000 a year, which famously, according to the socialite, “amounted to a bowl of lentils.” She was found guilty of hiring the hitman through her friend, Pina Auriemma, and was sentenced to 29 years in prison, which was later overturned in favor of 26 years instead. This was a nightmare for the always-prestigious Patrizia. She tried to commit suicide by hanging with a bedsheet in prison, but was not successful. 

However, Patrizia Gucci, though not by name, was still Patrizia Gucci in essence. Though against prison rules, she was allowed for her pet ferret to live with her. In 2011, she became eligible for parole under a work-release program but, in typical fashion for her, refused on account of her pride, saying, “I’ve never worked in my life, and I’m certainly not going to start now.” In 2016, she was released 5 years early under credit for good behavior, having served 18 years. The first thing she did after getting released was go shopping.

Patrizia Gucci has since admitted to hiring the hitman that killed Maurizio. She holds no sadness, no regret, no horror over her actions. In her opinion, he deserved it. He’d robbed their children of his presence, the Gucci enterprise of family shareholding, and, most insultingly, stripped her of the Gucci name when Gucci was Patrizia’s entire essence. Those were unforgivable deeds in Patrizia’s eyes, and when he attempted to cut her pay in half by marriage, she had had it. Patrizia Gucci lived for money, prestige, and the Gucci name. To achieve these things, anything, including murder, was fair game. 

However, she also robbed her children of a husband, tried to kick out a woman and her child out of an apartment, and murdered someone with no empathy over the fact that she wanted to stay rich and be the center of attention. Her portrayal by Lady Gaga in the House of Gucci is inaccurate, to say the least, even as stated by Patrizia herself. Lady Gaga had refused to do an interview with the woman, insulting her, and produced a movie enticing, but inaccurate to real life. Overall, Patrizia’s legacy is forever entwined with power, money, and prestige. The Gucci name, though famed now, is forever tarnished with the unspeakable actions of the family before them.