Dubbed “the Black Widow” by the Italian tabloids but known as “Lady Gucci” in more genteel circles, Reggiani admitted to wanting her ex-husband dead, livid over his impending marriage to a much younger woman and his $170 million windfall from the sale of his Gucci stock in 1993, two years after their divorce was finalized. And she admitted to being happy after he was dead, thinking all her problems were finally gone.
But she maintained her innocence in the murder-for-hire plot, telling writer Sara Gay Forden in correspondence from jail, “Maurizio was a man that I had loved most, despite all of his mistakes.'”
Reggiani and four accomplices were convicted of murder after a five-month-long trial in 1998.
Born in the northern city of Vignola in humble circumstances, she and Maurizio Gucci were both 24 years old when they married in 1973—despite his father Rodolfo Gucci‘s concerns.
“Be careful, Maurizio,” Rodolfo told him, per Forden’s 2000 book House of Gucci. “I have received information about the girl. I do not like the sound of her at all. I am told she is vulgar and ambitious, a social climber who has nothing in mind but money. Maurizio, she is not the girl for you.”
To which his son replied, “Papá, I can’t leave her. I love her.”
Reggiani persuaded Maurizio to be more ambitious in his role at Gucci, and it was during their marriage that he became head of the company. “As a younger man, he’d looked to Patrizia to support him and give him the strength to stand up to his own father, but as he gained power, he felt oppressed by her criticism,” Forden told the New York Post. They separated in 1985.
First sentenced to 29 years in prison for paying $375,000 to have Maurizio killed, an appeals court reduced her term to 26 years and she was released in October 2016. In 2017, according to Britain’s Telegraph, a court ruled that she was legally entitled to an annual allowance of $1.2 million from Maurizio’s estate, plus back payments from the 17 years she was in prison, per the terms of an agreement he signed two years before he was killed.
“Maurizio always loved me, he wanted me to have the best,” Patrizia said on People Magazine Investigates: Crimes of Fashion in 2018. “But he changed completely.” She also said, cryptically, “I am not guilty, but I am not innocent. All the things that happened were a misunderstanding.”