Warning: This article contains major spoilers for “House of Gucci.”
If the catchphrase “go gig or go home” was a film, it would be “House of Gucci.” Ridley Scott’s dramatization of a story that feels almost too dramatic to be true is a star-studded affair dressed in head-to-toe designer.
Based on the book of the same name by Sara Gay Forden, the movie charts the rise and fall of the union between fashion empire heir Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and social climber Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). Shortly after their divorce was finalized, Reggiani had her ex-husband killed in one of Italy’s most shocking scandals of the 1990s. “House of Gucci” also surveys the family feuds that threatened to implode the Italian luxury brand in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Like much of the film, the climax plows through the events surrounding Gucci’s murder and subsequent trial at a breakneck speed. Let’s break down the murder plot, sort out fact from fiction and fill in some of the gaps in the final sequence.
You’ve Been Served
The beginning of the end traces back to the first major crack in Patrizia and Maurizio’s marriage. Over the course of their love story, Patrizia transforms from a wide-eyed ingenue from a humble background into the glamorous grifter that Maurizio’s father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) always thought her to be.
First, Patrizia persuades her husband to patch things up with Rodolfo just before he dies in order to secure his inheritance. Then, she convinces his Uncle Aldo (Al Pacino) to lure Maurizio back in the family business. When Aldo and his dunce of a son Paolo (Jared Leto) start to get in her way, she masterminds a plan to cut them out of the company.
But Patrizia’s ruthless ambition starts to grate on her husband, who may have gone along with her string-pulling at first but hasn’t lost sight of the fact that he, not she, bears the Gucci name.
Federal operatives investigating the suspicious circumstances under which Maurizio came to possess his father’s inheritance raid their estate. Leaving his wife and young daughter behind to deal with the mess, Maurizio decamps to a Swiss chalet on a motorcycle.
Eventually, they join him for an extended vacation, where their relationship turns as chilly as the winter air. Maurizio humiliates Patrizia in front of his friends, including the beautiful Paola Franchi (Camille Cotton), of whom she instantly becomes jealous. At Christmas, Maurizio gifts her a Bloomingdale gift card before ordering her to stay out of the family business.
After returning to Milan alone, Patrizia hopes their marriage has hit a rough patch and not a dead end. But Domenico De Sole (Jack Huston), the family’s longtime lawyer, turns up at their daughter’s soccer game to serve her the divorce papers. Patrizia is furious that Maurizio didn’t have the guts to approach her himself and tells De Sole to get lost.
A Plan Starts to Form
While Maurizio and Paola’s relationship heats up, Patrizia travels the world with her friend and low-budget psychic, Pina (Salma Hayek). During a spa treatment, Patrizia’s hints about taking out her ex-husband grow more urgent and direct. Pina tries to dissuade her by promising to put an evil eye on him when they return from the Caymans.
Before she goes any further with her plan, Patrizia makes a final attempt to win Maurizio back. One night, she shows up at their former home in Milan, where he now lives with Paola. She’s been leaving dozens of messages on their voicemail machine that alternate between pleading and threatening.
Outside the door, she tries to appeal to his sentimental side by talking about how much their daughter misses him; when that doesn’t work, she presents him with an album of family photos. Maurizio is unmoved.
“I had no idea I married a monster,” she spits at him. “You didn’t,” he says matter-of-factly. “You married a Gucci.”
Taking Care of Business
Meanwhile, big changes are underway for the Gucci business. Thanks to Patrizia’s maneuvering, Aldo is behind bars for tax evasion and Paolo Gucci has given up his shares in the company. With the others out of the picture, Maurizio seeks to freshen up Gucci’s stale reputation by hiring up-and-coming designer Tom Ford (Reeve Carney). He also partners with a Bahrain-based investment firm, Investcorp, who eventually buys Aldo and Paolo’s shares.
Ford’s Gucci debut is a big success, but it doesn’t produce immediate returns for the company, which is steeped in debt thanks to slow sales and Maurizio’s penchant for luxury real estate, art and travel. Investcorp’s leaders and De Sole, who intends to take over as CEO, present him with a term sheet. Maurizio throws a plate at the ground and storms out of the room.
Pina arranges for a meeting between Patrizia and two hitmen, Benedetto Ceraulo (Vincenzo Tanassi) and Ivano Savioni (Andrea Piedimonte Bodini). Patrizia leaves them with a briefcase of cash and a directive: “Don’t miss.”
On the day the murder is to take place, Patrizia writes “paradeisos” (the Greek word for “paradise”) in her diary and takes a bath. Back in Milan, Maurizio sips espresso at a café. The hitmen spot him bicycling back to his office and confirm they have the right target with a picture that Patrizia has supplied to them.
As Maurizio walks up the steps, Ceraulo shoots him several times. A man runs out of the building to see what’s wrong, and Ceraulo shoots him too.
Later, Patrizia and her daughter arrive at their old home. Patrizia tearfully embraces a surprised Paola before coldly asking an attendant to “Show Ms. Franchi out of my house.” She walks into a spacious room and shuts the door behind her.
The Black Widow Behind Bars
A few years later, Patrizia (dubbed “The Black Widow” by the Italian press), Pina, Benedetto Ceraulo and Ivano Savioni are found guilty for the murder of Maurizio. Ceraulo receives a life sentence, while Patrizia gets 29 years in prison.
What Happened to the Rest of the Gucci Family?
At the very end of the film, text appears over the screen announcing that Aldo Gucci died of prostate cancer and Paolo Gucci died poor and alone in London. The film ends by stating that the Gucci company is no longer owned by the Gucci family.
How Were Patrizia And Her Accomplices Caught?
“House of Gucci” never goes into detail about how police came to charge Patrizia, Pina and the hitmen with the murder; the film simply cuts from the immediate aftermath of Maurizio’s death to the sentencing.
In reality, the crime went unsolved for nearly two years, until a tip-off in 1997 led police to Ivano Savioni, a hotel porter who had put Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma in contact with Ceraulo and a getaway driver, Orazio Cicala.
All four of them, plus Reggiani, were sentenced to jail time.