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You'll have seen the photos and trailer by now: Lady Gaga with a bad Italian accent, Adam Driver in that cable knit sweater. And Jared Leto, well... let's waste no words on that. This is House of Gucci, Ridley Scott's latest film.
Ridley has been turning his hand towards the retelling of true historical tales. He recently tackled the rape of Marguerite de Carrouges in The Last Duel (which also stars Adam Driver).
But in House of Gucci, which is effectively a story of murder, we don't learn as much about the people and events that lead to the assassination of Maurizio Gucci as we do about the history of the brand and the family. As we delve into the true story behind the film, we're going to get into House of Gucci spoilers so be warned.
The film itself mostly follows the true story of the marriage between Patrizia (Lady Gaga) and Maurizo (Driver), their eventual split and his murder. Patrizia and Maurizio married in 1972 when they were both 24.
The film shows Maurizio and Patrizia having one daughter named Alessandra; the movie makes a big deal of the moment, in which Patrizia tells her father-in-law Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) that it was her idea to name the baby after Maurizio's mother. In real life, Maurizio's mother was named Sandra, and the couple had two children; the aforementioned Alessandra and another daughter named Allegra.
In real life, Maurizio fled to Switzerland when he was investigated for forging a signature in order to avoid paying inheritance taxes. In the film, it was implied that Patrizia is the one who forges the signature.
Maurizio was found guilty of the forgery (via AP) but later acquitted of the forgery (via Financial Review). Eventually the couple split; in the film, Maurizio tells Patrizia to return to Italy while he stays in Switzerland.
In reality, they moved back to Milan in 1982 and shortly after he told her he was going on a brief business trip to Florence. However, the next day he sent a friend to tell Patrizia their marriage was finished and he wasn't coming home. (Brutal.)
Patrizia was consumed by jealousy, while Maurizio began dating his friend Paola Franchi (played by Camille Cottin) and eventually Patrizia and Maurizio divorced in 1994 (it's left ambiguous in the film whether they were officially divorced). Maurizio was preparing to marry Paola when he was murdered.
Reportedly, Patrizia tasked her longtime friend and psychic Guiseppina Auriemma, aka Pina, (Salma Hayek) to hire a hitman and a getaway driver, which she did. All four were charged with the murder.
The film doesn't go into the trial at all, but in real life, it was in the media spotlight. In 1992 Patrizia had surgery for a brain tumor, and the NY Times reported that her defense argued: "[her] threats were the ramblings of a mentally disturbed woman, maintaining that her physical illness took away her critical faculties."
Despite this, a judge declared her fit to stand trial. Patrizia's defence then claimed that Pina acted on her own and later blackmailed Patrizia; a classic case of Thomas Beckett's "will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?".
In an often ill-advised move, Patrizia took the stand. The NY Times reported: "Mrs Reggiani said in a cross-examination that she was forced to pay $365,000, then added, somewhat confusingly, 'It was worth every penny.'"
As shown briefly in the film, Patrizia seemingly admitted to the crime in her diary. House of Gucci shows her writing an entry on the day of the murder in shaky hand the word 'paradeisos' — the Greek word for paradise.
What's more, in real life, the police were investigating other motives behind Maurizio's murder. Initially, the police thought Maurizio's murder could have been tied to either the myriad Gucci family feuds or Maurizio's business dealings.
The former Gucci head was trying to make a name for himself once again in the business world by investing in a casino in Switzerland. In the end, they were led to Patrizia, thanks to an anonymous tip (which remains elusive to this day).
The tip led police to a hotel porter named Ivano Savioni, who was one of the people Pina had contacted in her pursuit for a contract killer. Additionally, Patrizia's mother Silvana Barbieri was also under investigation for having known about the murder plot.
Patrizia's power move at the end of the film, in which she refuses to respond to her maiden name, was sort of real. By law after her divorce, she was meant to not use the name Gucci anymore but continued to do so anyway.
The film ends with her sentence: 26 years in prison. However, Patrizia's time in jail was also a fascinating story. She kept a pet ferret, and though she was offered day release on the condition of getting a job, she refused, saying: "I've never worked in my life and I'm certainly not going to start now,” (via The Telegraph).
She was released after 17 years, the last two of which she did in fact get a job working at a costume jewelery store in Milan, where she now lives. She can often be seen browsing the city's boutiques with her pet blue and yellow macaw on her shoulder.
And on a final tragic note, according to The Telegraph, her poor ferret Bambi died when a fellow inmate sat on him and crushed him.
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