Aldo Gucci, Son of Leather Goods Company Founder, Dies
NEW YORK (AP) _ Aldo Gucci, who helped turn his father’s Italian luxury leather goods company into an international symbol of chic but whose own son later implicated him for tax evasion, has died at age 84, it was announced Friday.
No information on when or where he died or the cause was supplied in a statement from Gucci America announcing his death, and there was no answer at Gucci’s New York offices Friday night.
However, Peggy Rao, who has handled public relations for Gucci in Palm Beach, Fla., told the Palm Beach Post she had been informed that he died in Rome of a cerebral hemmorage.
Gucci was responsible for marketing his family’s products in the United States. In 1986, he pleaded guilty to evading $7 million in taxes and was later implicated in a corporate tax evasion scheme.
The Gucci company was founded in 1906 in Florence, Italy, by Guccio Gucci, a leather goods salesman. It was with some reluctance that he watched his son Aldo expand overseas - a drive that resulted in 180 stores and about 82 percent of the parent company’s sales today. Aldo Gucci opened the company’s first American store in New York City in 1953.
Aldo also brought his sons Giorgio, Paolo and Roberto and his nephew Maurizio into the executive ranks. Paolo later implicated him for tax evasion, and Maurizio had him ousted in 1984.
In a statement issued Friday, Maurizio said of his uncle, ″Aldo Gucci was a man of great vision. His efforts were instrumental in establishing Gucci as the premier name in luxury leather goods in the United States.″
The tax evasion case began when Paolo proposed more inexpensive products and licensing and was opposed by his relatives. In one of two lawsuits Paolo filed against the others, he charged that the family blocked his efforts to trade under his own name and he produced documents showing that Aldo, then 81, had evaded taxes.
The Internal Revenue Service obtained the documents and Aldo pleaded guilty to evading $7 million in personal income taxes in federal court in Manhattan in 1986. He was sentenced to a year in prison but was allowed to serve part of the sentence at a halfway house in West Palm Beach, Fla.
In 1984, Maurizio used his 50 percent of the company to seize control, oust Aldo, and bring in new, young, U.S.-educated managers.
Aldo Gucci resigned as president of Gucci America in 1984 and was replaced by Domenico De Sole.
In 1988, Gucci America admitted that the company, under Aldo, had conspired to cheat the government of corporate taxes between 1972 and 1982 and the firm paid the government $20.5 million in back taxes, interest and penalties.
A lawyer for the company told a judge at the time that Gucci America had foreign corporations submit false invoices for services never rendered and other phony documents to divert money to Aldo Gucci, who kept some and distributed the rest among other members of the family.
At the time of his death, Aldo Gucci was still acting as a consultant to the company.