A fierce war between rival members of Italy’s most famous industrial dynasty has escalated, while a senior member is under investigation following accusations of tax evasion made by his own mother.
Members of the Agnelli family, who have been compared to the Kennedys, have been fighting bitterly over assets bequeathed to them by former patriarch Gianni Agnelli, the richest man in modern Italian history, who died in 2003 at the age 81 years old.
Agnelli, whose funeral was reportedly attended by 100,000 people, named his grandson John Elkann, the eldest son of his mother, Margherita Agnelli, as his successor.
Shortly after her father’s death, which turned Fiat into a national power, controlling 4.4% of Italy’s GDP, Margherita agreed to give up her stake in the empire in exchange for 1.2 billion euros.
But then he changed his mind and has been trying to recover the assets he gave up, whose value today is estimated at around 4.8 billion euros.
Agnelli, who was 81 when he died, named his grandson John Elkann (pictured) as his successor.
Shortly after her father’s death, Margherita Agnelli (pictured) agreed to give up her stake in the empire in exchange for €1.2 billion.
The Agnelli family – Adults from left to right: Marella Caracciolo, Gianni Agnelli, Eduardo Agnelli and Margherita Agnelli
In the latest in a long series of attacks against her son, who controls companies such as Ferrari, she accused him of helping his own mother, Marella Caracciolo, Gianni Agnelli’s widow, commit tax evasion.
In 2004, Marella gave John and his two brothers control of Dicembre, the family business that has majority stakes in much of the automobile empire they now control.
But after his death in 2019, cases related to the control of the empire began to accumulate.
Margherita accused her mother, who at the time was an official resident of Switzerland and therefore managing the change of control of assets under Swiss law, of living in Italy in the years before her death.
His lawyers claimed that this would make the bequest illegal under Italian law.
Gigi Moncalvo, an author who has written about the family, told the Times: “Margherita has called her mother’s drivers and staff as witnesses to prove she was in Italy, noting that she had been suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease in recent years. two years of his life and never left Turin.
“If he can prove it, the legacy could be annulled, which would give him the opportunity to obtain half of the assets left by his mother, which are worth about 4.8 billion euros, including the shares in Dicembre.
The Agnelli family has been involved in a bitter feud since Gianni’s death.
Italian magistrates investigate John Elkann on suspicion of helping his grandmother in alleged tax evasion
“That would give him control over the company.”
“There are also gold bars hidden in Switzerland that the Italian government paid to the Agnellis to supply them with weapons and vehicles during the two world wars,” he added.
Italian magistrates have been investigating whether Marella avoided paying taxes in Italy by claiming to be a Swiss resident, and are investigating John Elkann on suspicion of aiding his alleged crimes.
Mother and son, believed to have not spoken since 2004, are also fighting over the fate of the family’s art collection, which includes pieces by Picasso, Monet and Francis Bacon.
Lawyers representing Agnelli, who had five more children with her second husband, said she was simply “trying to ensure fair treatment for all of her children, in accordance with the law.”
Elkann’s lawyers, for their part, said they would continue to fight Margherita in court: “There is a mother, Margherita Agnelli, who has been pursuing her own parents and three of her children in court for 20 years.”
They added that she was “ignoring the clearly expressed wishes of Gianni Agnelli and Marella Caracciolo, as well as the agreements she herself signed.”
Fiat’s honorary president, Gianni Agnelli, the elegant Italian industrialist who transformed Fiat into a world power
The Agnelli family is not the only Italian automotive dynasty at war with itself.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that an Italian beautician hired a private detective to collect saliva from a straw used by an heiress to the Lamborghini fortune to fight a bitter defamation battle in Italy.
Flavia Borzone, 35, is being sued for defamation by the son of the legendary hypercar maker’s founder after she publicly claimed he slept with her mother and was her real father.
Borzone, a Naples beautician, says Tonino Lamborghini, son of Ferrucio Lamborghini, met his mother, the Neapolitan opera singer Rosalba Colosimo, in the late 1980s, when she was 17.
Borzone said Lamborghini stopped and offered her a ride to Colosimo while she waited for a bus in Milan.
The couple allegedly entered into a relationship and in 1988 Borzone was born.
But after going public with her claims in 2019 on TV shows and gossip magazines, she has faced an uphill battle to prove that she is, in fact, related to the Lamborghini family.