Leonardo Del Vecchio: Italian billionaire and Ray-Ban owner dies

“Unfortunately, EssilorLuxottica announces today that the chairman of the board has passed away,” the group said in a statement, adding that the board will meet to “decide on the next steps.”

Del Vecchio rose from a childhood in an orphanage to amassing a fortune of tens of billions of euros in one of the most famous stories of rags-to-riches in Italy’s economic recovery after the war.

“Leonardo Del Vecchio was a great Italian. His story, from an orphanage to running a business empire, seems like a story from another time. But it is an example for today and tomorrow. RIP,” European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Paolo Gentiloni said. Twitter.

The Italian businessman founded Luxottica in 1[ads1]961 and built a company that owned the Ray-Ban brand and combined forces with French Essilor in a major merger in 2018.

He remained CEO of EssilorLuxottica until December 2020, when he handed over the day – to – day management of the company to CEO Francesco Milleri. He had personally supported Milleri as head of the French-Italian spectacle giant when the merged group was created.

Del Vecchio’s influence extended beyond his own business, and by the end of 2021, he was Italy’s second richest man behind Giovanni Ferrero of the Nutella production group, according to Forbes.

His Delfin holding company is the largest shareholder in the Italian financial group Mediobanca and has a holding of just under 10% in Italy’s largest insurance company Generali. It also owns around 7% of the real estate company Covivio, listed in both Paris and Milan

“With the passing of Del Vecchio, Milan will lose one of the most emblematic figures in its recent history,” said Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala on Twitter.

Shares in Mediobanca fell more than 4% after the reports, Generali fell almost 2.5% while EssilorLuxottica – where Delfin owns a controlling stake of 32% – remained unchanged at just under 148 euros per share.

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