Eeven when she was escorted to jail Patrizia Reggiani was determined to go in style, wearing dark sunglasses and a fur coat. “I told her, ‘Look, you are going to jail and that fur coat is extremely expensive,'” said ex-policewoman Carmine Gallo. “And so we left the coat with her mother and I lent her my green jacket, which she promised to give me back.”
Gallo never saw his jacket again, but he doesn’t hold a grudge. He was the police officer who called Reggiani’s opulent home in central Milan around 5 a.m. on a frosty morning in January 1997 on suspicion of orchestrating the murder of her ex-husband and fashion house heir Maurizio. to arrest Gucci. Almost two years earlier, at the age of 46, Gucci was shot dead outside his office on Via Palestro. The fall fascinated Italy, and now the story is retold in Ridley Scott’s film about the House of Gucci fashion dynasty.
Gallo doesn’t know if his character can be seen in the film, starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, but his accidental role in finding Gucci’s killers was crucial.
He was on duty as the head of an organized crime police force when he answered a call from a man who said he had information about the murder. “Until then, I only knew about the Gucci case through the newspapers,” said Gallo. “I was used to dealing with corruption, not murder. It was hard to believe what this person was saying, but I was curious. “
The informant named Gabriele hadn’t returned long Italy from South America and was unemployed and homeless. He lived in a cheap hotel on the outskirts of Milan, where he met Ivano Savioni, a doorman who confided in him his involvement in Gucci’s murder.
“Gabriele said he could give more information for cash,” said Gallo. “I said no, we can help you find a job and a home, but only if the information is proven to be correct.”
Gabriele got Savioni to tell the story again, this time he recorded the conversation. Savioni said he was approached by Pina Auriemma, an old friend from Naples, to ask if he knew anyone who could kill Gucci. Auriemma was a psychic for Reggiani, now divorced from Gucci, who lived with another woman.
“Auriemma told Savioni that Reggiani was tired of being molested by her ex-husband who tried to take the Gucci name away from her,” Gallo said. “She hated him and wanted to kill him, and if Auriemma could find someone to kill him, she would pay for it.”
Savioni turned to Benedetto Ceraulo, an indebted pizzeria owner, and Orazio Cicala. Ceraulo carried out the shooting on the morning of March 27, 1995, including injuring Giuseppe Onorato, the concierge who was sweeping leaves from the entrance to the Gucci office building. Cicala drove the getaway car.
None of the four involved in the murder – for which they received 600 million lira, the old Italian currency (260,600 pounds) – had previously committed a crime.
The inspector who led the official investigative team, which had long held the theory that Gucci might have been the target of an international plot after selling its stake in the company to an Arab bank, laughed when Gallo brought him his first information.
But that didn’t deter Gallo. “The first time I read about the murder, it struck me that the concierge had been injured – if these people were professionals they would have killed him too, they would not have left a witness,” he said.
When the group found out that the police were following Gucci’s inner circle, they became concerned that Reggiani would confess and planned to kill them too. They were recorded hatching their plan to kill Reggiani after Gallo dispatched an undercover police officer to pretend to be the Colombian killer Gabriele suggested to the group for the job. All but Ceraulo confessed to their involvement and that Reggiani had ordered the murder when they were arrested.
The police had to break open the door to Reggiani’s apartment when they arrested them because they did not hear the doorbell. “She was walking through this huge place holding a lamp,” said Gallo. “But she was very calm. She said she was kidding when she told Auriemma that she wanted Gucci dead. She said, ‘How many women say they want to kill their husbands?’ “
Reggiani was dubbed “the black widow” by the Italian press when the portrayal of a despised woman surfaced during her trial. She was sentenced along with the others and served 16 years of a 29-year prison term.
In an interview earlier this year, Reggiani, now 72, spoke openly for the first time about commissioning a hit man to kill Gucci. She said she really enjoyed her time in prison, where she kept a pet ferret, helped inmates do their hair and nails, and tended the garden.
Since her publication on the subject of good conduct in 2014, she has often been photographed strolling through Milan with her parrot on her shoulder.
One condition of her reduced sentence was that she had to work, which she shied away from, until her lawyer arranged a part-time position at Bozart, an upscale costume jewelry store.
“It was a blessing and a curse; Some people thought we were bad people for hiring an assassin, ”said Maurizio Manca, co-owner of Bozart.
Reggiani spent over two years at Bozart, where she advised the company’s jewelry designs and curated the Instagram account. It was the first real job she ever had.
“The trickiest part was the technology – we had to teach it to use email and leave sticky notes on the computer with instructions on how to turn it on, open files, and print,” said Manca. “There wasn’t that much freshness in spirit, but she was hardworking.”
The parrot she occasionally brought into the shop was less busy. “The parrot was a bit of a nuisance,” added Manca.
Reggiani often spoke about her life with Gucci, her vacation in St. Moritz and her time in New York, where she socialized with members of the Kennedy family and the Trumps.
“The newspapers were always full of what they were up to, they were like the king and queen of the Milanese social scene,” said Manca. “She always said she was the only real Gucci left.”
It was the obsessional attachment to the Gucci name that some believe motivated them to arrange their ex’s murder. “She refused to sign her police declaration with the name Reggiani,” said Gallo, who still has Reggiani’s old passport in his possession.
Giuse Ferrè, a seasoned fashion journalist in Milan, said all elements of the story are perfect fodder for a Hollywood movie. Reggiani is played by Lady Gaga.
“I was impressed by how similar they are,” said Ferrè. “It was such a shock when the murder happened, like something that was going to happen in America, not here.”
Gallo, who retired from the police force after 40 years, said the perpetrators would never have been found without the casual informant, for whom he found a job and stayed in contact for several years. “It was thanks to Gabriele that the case was solved,” he said.