Paolo Gucci, Maverick Grandson of Fashion Guru, Dies In London
LONDON (AP) _ Maverick Italian businessman Paolo Gucci, who was sacked from the global fashion empire started by his grandfather, has died in London at age 64.
King’s Cross Hospital said Thursday he had been in the intensive care unit and died Tuesday. It gave no cause of death, but the Italian news agency ANSA said he died of liver problems.
Paolo was a key player in the struggle for control of the fashion dynasty started in Florence in 1906 by his grandfather Guccio Gucci, a leather goods salesman. The family in-fighting ultimately drove all the Guccis out of the company that still bears their name.
Paolo Gucci told the Sunday Express a decade ago that all his troubles stemmed from his attempts to expand and modernize the Gucci empire by marketing the name ``Gucci″ with a licensing operation. He said the family, especially his uncle Rodolfo, wanted to keep the business small, exclusive and old-fashioned.
His father, Aldo, brought the business to the United States in 1953 and made Paolo vice president and managing director both of Gucci Shops Inc. and Gucci Parfums of America shortly after his second marriage in 1977.
But a year later, Rodolfo fired him from the Italian parent company, claiming he failed to carry out his duties while in charge of a factory in Florence.
He decided to market a few lines of his own under the name Paolo Gucci. He also filed a lawsuit for compensation from the family business. Both decisions enraged his father, who fired him from his jobs with Gucci in America.
Paolo went ahead with his own line of goods, starting a bitter Gucci trade war. The Independent on Sunday reported that the Gucci board spent up to $8 million a year fighting Paolo’s right to set up on his own.
In one of two lawsuits Paolo filed against his relatives, he charged the family blocked his efforts to trade under his own name and he produced documents showing that his father, Aldo, then 81, had evaded taxes.
In 1986, Aldo Gucci pleaded guilty to evading $7 million in taxes and was jailed for a year and a day.
The Evening Standard reported Thursday that Paolo received an estimated $41 million when he finally sold his share in the family business in 1987.
A colorful figure, Paolo lived in a Sussex mansion where he reared strutting pheasants to look pretty rather than to be shot. At one time, he owned a flock of prize racing pigeons. He also kept a stable of luxury cars and had a New York apartment and a 12th-century farmhouse near Florence.
He had two daughters by his first wife, Yvonne Moschetto, who lives in Florence. In 1977, he married English-born Jenny Garwood, but they separated in 1990.
Last year, Gucci spent five weeks in jail in New York on contempt charges for failing to pay his estranged wife almost $500,000 in back alimony and child support for their daughter. He had sought bankruptcy protection in the United States, citing debts of $90 million.
Funeral arrangements were not announced.