The Untold Truth Of The Gucci Family

Every so often, a family somehow transcends space and time and launches itself into the universe as a globally-recognized name. Whether that's through politics, hotel chains, or fashion, it's a phenomenon that few truly experience. The Gucci family is one such family that carries a name that has had international acclaim for over a century.

With the release of the film "House of Gucci," starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, there's a renewed interest in the real people behind the characters. And while it's clear that the Gucci family isn't exactly fond of what they've seen, having released a statement claiming the film portrays the Guccis as "thugs, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them" and that the experience of watching the movie is "extremely painful from a human point of view," audiences have still been interested in finding out more (per The Guardian).

Here's a look at the real family behind the film, including their highest highs and lowest lows.

Guccio Gucci founded the family business in 1920

Guccio Gucci was born in Florence, Italy, on March 26, 1881. As shared by CR Fashion Book, his father worked as a leather goods maker, an influence that would go on to guide Guccio through his adult life. After striking out on his own by working as a porter at a hotel in London, Guccio eventually went back to Italy and began working for a luggage company. He opened the first Gucci store in 1921, selling leather saddles for horseback riders. 

Guccio married Aida Calvelli in 1901, and the pair raised six children together, including Aida's son from a previous relationship (per The U.S. Sun). Three of their sons — Aldo, Vasco, and Rodolfo Gucci — joined the family business in 1938, each tasked with modernizing the brand and expanding its reach further into Italy. 

Guccio died in 1953 only 15 days after opening the brand's store in New York City. In the years that followed, his children turned the family business into a thriving empire that attracted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy (per CR Fashion Book). Per the Telegraph, the empire was divided evenly among Aldo, Vasco, and Rodolfo, who each had their own roles as well — Aldo focused on expanding Gucci even further, Rodolfo was in charge of the shops in Italy, and Vasco oversaw production.

Aldo Gucci, the company's first salesman, had a secret family

Aldo Gucci began working for his father's business when he was only 14 years old. After he put in untold hours over the years, he became Gucci's first salesman, a move that allowed him to open up the first Gucci shop in Rome when he was only 20, as noted by Elle Australia. The move launched the brand to superstar status, as legendary screen actress Ingrid Bergman carried a Gucci bag and umbrella in a film. 

In the 1950s, Aldo traveled to New York alongside his brothers Rodolfo and Vasco to open the first Gucci store in the United States. The trio were greeted by President John F. Kennedy, who proclaimed Aldo to be the first "Italian Ambassador to fashion." Aldo didn't stop there, opening stores in Beverly Hills and Chicago before moving on to Tokyo, Japan. 

Aldo was also the father of a secret child named Patricia Gucci. Patricia found out that her father had a wife and three children when she was 10 years old. Patricia's mother met Aldo when she was hired by him to work at the store in Rome (via Harper's Bazaar). While the Gucci family was displeased with Patricia's existence, Aldo was a dedicated member of the Gucci business until 1986, when he was sentenced to one year in prison for tax evasion (per The Florentine). He died in 1990 from prostate cancer (per The New York Times).

Rodolfo Gucci acted in over 40 projects

For many, Rodolfo Gucci is better known by his stage name, Maurizio D'Ancora. As an actor, Rodolfo starred in over 40 films between the years of 1929 and 1946 (per IMDb).

The relationship between Rodolfo and his brothers seems to have been tense at times, but the trio worked together as the heads of Gucci for decades. After his brother Vasco died in 1947, Rodolfo and brother Aldo bought out Vasco's shares in Gucci from his widow; Aldo essentially assumed the role of the CEO and Rodolfo appeared to have been happy overseeing things on the production end, according to Slate.

Rodolfo married his wife, actress Sandra Ravel (born Alessandra Winkelhausen), in 1944. Up until his father's death in 1953, his relationship with the Gucci brand wasn't strong as he was focused on his acting. After his father died, Rodolfo returned to the fold. He and Ravel had one child together, to whom Rodolfo ultimately left everything Gucci-related (via E!).

Maurizio Gucci, Rodolfo Gucci's only son, was killed

Maurizio Gucci was the only son of Rodolfo Gucci and Sandra Ravel. When Maurizio introduced Rodolfo to a new girlfriend in 1970, he and his father began to quarrel. Per Town & Country, Rodolfo was immediately "suspicious" of the woman, Patrizia Reggiani. The publication noted that Rodolfo threatened to disinherit his son if he pursued a relationship with Reggiani. Despite that, Maurizio and Reggiani got married in 1972 (per The Guardian).

After the wedding, Maurizio and Reggiani lived with her family for two years and Maurizio worked for their trucking business. The birth of Maurizio's daughter Alessandra offered an opportunity for reconnection with Rodolfo, and both parties put in the effort to make it happen. When Rodolfo died in 1983, Maurizio inherited his father's role at Gucci, including his shares. This appears to be when tensions in his marriage began to become apparent.

Maurizio was soon battling two fronts: one in his personal life and a second in his professional life. He left his wife and family in May 1985, though still requiring Reggiani to appear at events with him as he saw fit. At the same time, Maurizio was working to buy out his uncle and cousins so he could be the sole owner of the Gucci brand.

Maurizio died on March 27, 1995, after an assassin shot him multiple times. Reggiani was ultimately tried and convicted in his death (per The Guardian).

Patrizia Reggiani had a humble childhood before finding wealth and a prison sentence

Patrizia Reggiani was born in a small town near Milan in December 1948. Much has been written about her family's origin story; her father worked as a truck driver and eventually established his own successful business. Though her family's wealth was nowhere near that of the Gucci family's, Elle Australia notes that her father had the ability to surprise a young Reggiani with lavish gifts.

After Reggiani married Maurizio Gucci, the two went on to have two children: Alessandra, born in 1977, and Allegra, who was born in 1981. Once Maurizio inherited father Rodolfo Gucci's shares in the company in the 1980s, Reggiani and Maurizio led a lavish life. However, things began to fall apart, and Vogue France reports that after Maurizio left Reggiani, he moved in with a younger woman, Paola Franchi.

Reggiani wrestled with a lot in the years that followed, including a brain tumor diagnosis in 1992. When Maurizio was ousted as the head of Gucci in 1993, Reggiani was angry, later admitting to The Guardian, "I was filled with rage, but there was nothing I could do. He shouldn't have done that to me." She was convicted of his murder, having arranged for a hitman to kill Maurizio in 1995. She was released from prison in 2016.

Alessandra and Allegra Gucci are still living large

Alessandra and Allegra Gucci were 18 and 14 years old when their father, Maurizio Gucci, was killed by a hitman who was hired by their mother, Patrizia Reggiani. The Cinemaholic notes that the two were exceptionally close to their mother prior to their father's death; per The Cut, both girls were living with Reggiani following their parents' divorce, and the two girls also tried to help their mother's legal case after she was charged in Maurizio's death.

In 2014, Alessandra and Allegra were both accused of tax evasion, though they were eventually cleared of all charges ( via WWD). Per The Cinemaholic, both were startled when their mother began receiving payments that Maurizio had agreed to several years before his death and even campaigned against Reggiani's right to do so. As a result, their relationship with their mother grew strained, and the two eventually cut ties completely.

Once they were acquitted of tax evasion charges, both of Patrizia and Maurizio Gucci's daughters made moves to distance themselves from the Gucci name and brand. To date, The Cut has noted that each is married and reportedly living a fabulous life; the two have inherited homes and a yacht from their father. As shared by Classic Boat, Allegra has taken up one of her father's favorite pastimes, racing boats, while Alessandra launched her own bag line in 2009 (per The Spin Off).

Paolo Gucci was fired from Gucci and was $90 million in debt

Paolo Gucci was one of Aldo Gucci's sons, and Bustle notes that he was even tasked with running the family's American operations for a brief period of time. His obituary in The Washington Post states that Aldo made his son the vice president and managing director of Gucci Shops Inc. and Gucci Parfums of America, but he was fired from the Italian arm of Gucci by his uncle Rodolfo Gucci the following year.

As stated in The Washington Post, Paolo subsequently attempted to sue the Gucci family for money he felt he was owed. In turn, Aldo fired Paolo from the American branch of Gucci, and Paolo ended up offloading his shares in Gucci in the late 1980s for $42.5 million. The years that followed were tough for Paolo, as he faced imprisonment for failing to pay child support to his ex-wife Jenny Garwood, declared bankruptcy despite the massive Gucci payout, and was even accused of starving the horses he had at his own home.

At the time of his death in October 1995, Paolo, who remarried and had two more children, reportedly owed $90 million (via The Independent).

Maurizio Gucci's girlfriend Paola Franchi has spoken out against claims she sought his money

Paola Franchi and Maurizio Gucci began a relationship five years before his death in 1995, and she later told The Guardian that despite what many people think, she didn't pursue Maurizio for his family's wealth. In fact, her ex-husband had even more money. She explained, "Actually my previous husband, whom I left for Maurizio, was even richer, so it was all nonsense."

The death of Maurizio turned Franchi's life completely sideways in more ways than one. She and her young son had been living in Maurizio's home but were unceremoniously kicked not long after Maurizio's body was found so that Reggiani and her daughters could move in. Franchi also believed Reggiani was responsible for the murder of Maurizio almost immediately. She told The Times that Reggiani had been out for Maurizio ever since she realized their relationship was real, saying, "I thought straight away it was on the orders of his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani. She was crazy for vendetta."

The years that followed were difficult for Franchi, especially when she lost her son, Charly, when he was 16.

Maurizio Gucci's mother died when he was 5

Not too much is known about Maurizio Gucci's mother, actress Alessandra Winkelhausen (also known by her stage name Sandra Ravel), as she died when Maurizio was only 5 years old, according to Town & Country. It appeared that Maurizio's father, Rodolfo Gucci, never remarried, and in fact, there is no record of Rodolfo pursuing any kind of serious relationship after his wife passed away. 

Vanity Fair has also noted that while Winklehausen was believed to be beautiful, she also reportedly had a "very hot temper." Perhaps due to her early death, when Maurizio and Patricia Reggiani welcomed their first daughter in 1977, they named her after his mother. It seems that the younger Alessandra was something of a confidant to Maurizio in his last years, as in 1995, he reportedly once confided to her, "I'm a weak man, I've messed up everything," adding, "I think this time I really put my foot in it."