House of Gucci has renewed interest in the titular Gucci family’s story of business, struggle, and betrayal—but just how much does the film leave out about the notorious plot that culminated in murder? House of Gucci is helmed by a star-studded cast under the guidance of the Academy Award-nominated director Ridley Scott. The film tells the story of Gucci, but centers specifically on the relationship between the late Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga).
House of Gucci's all-star cast includes Academy Award winners Lady Gaga, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, and Al Pacino, as well as Oscar nominees Adam Driver and Salma Hayek. The film's makeup and costuming, especially for Leto's portrayal of Paolo Gucci, are also high-caliber and earned House of Gucci its only Oscar nomination in 2022. Despite this snub, many of House of Gucci's actors have still received praise, probably because of how well they mirror the real-life individuals on which the story is based. However, no matter how talented the cast, and no matter how well they attempted to recreate the real Gucci family, the movie itself could only include so much of Gucci's real history.
House of Gucci is Ridley Scott’s controversial crime drama based on the true story of Patrizia Reggiani and the events leading up to her conviction for murdering her ex-husband Maurizio Gucci. While the movie does a fair job at telling the dramatic story of the Gucci family and what used to be their brand, the director has received criticism from the real heirs of Aldo Gucci for his portrayal of their family. House of Gucci is based on a true story, but even the most accurate biopic cannot include every aspect of real-life events, so there are obviously a few things the film got wrong, and a few more details Scott was forced to leave out.
The Boardroom Fight of 1982
A physical altercation took place in a Gucci boardroom meeting in 1982. Paolo brought a tape recorder into the meeting, inciting a violent confrontation between the real-life characters behind House of Gucci. While there are several accounts of what transpired, the overall consensus is that Maurizio had to try and hold Paolo back as Aldo tried to take the tape recorder away. According to Jenny Gucci in her book Gucci Wars, Paolo then called the police and had lacerations on his face which left him bloody and with a headache. Family lawyer Domenico De Sole who had been present at the meeting disputed this saying it was little more than a scratch, but according to Jenny, Paolo even had trouble seeing after the confrontation.
In the true story behind House of Gucci, Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) wasn’t simply part of the Gucci brand and Gucci household. Rodolfo was an actor who went by the stage name Maurizio D'Ancora. He appeared in more than forty films from 1929 to 1946. Not only was Jeremy Iron’s character an actor, he also made a movie of his own: a feature-length film about his own family. Titled Il cinema nella mia vita, Rodolfo’s movie was created partially for the benefit of his son Maurizio. Rodolfo wanted Maurizio to be able to see more images of his mother Sandra, as she passed away when he was still young.
How Patrizia Was Caught
House of Gucci does show how Patricia may have admitted to the murder of her husband Maurizio in her diary. In the film, she is shown writing “paradeisos,” which is the Greek word for paradise. In the true story of House of Gucci, Patrizia wasn’t the only suspect. Police were investigating multiple potential motives behind Maurizio’s assassination—including Maurizio’s business transactions, such as his investment in a Swiss casino, and any number of the Gucci family conflicts. Lady Gaga proves herself in House of Gucci, but to this day, no one can prove who led the police to the real-life Patrizia. She was caught based on an anonymous tip, and whoever left the tip for the police has never come forward in the decades since the trial.
In 1997, Patrizia was sentenced to 29 years in prison. In 2000, her sentence was reduced to 26 years, but she ended up only serving 18 before being released for good behavior. Interestingly, Patrizia’s time in jail could’ve been much shorter, but she prevented this outcome by being unwilling to take part in a work-release program. For viewers wondering where Patrizia Reggiani is now, in October of 2011, she was offered parole if she would agree to get a job, but she scandalously said “I’ve never worked in my life, and I’m certainly not going to start now” (via The Telegraph). She was released in 2016 and still receives $1.2 million from her deceased ex-husband’s estate every year.
Aldo’s Time in Prison
Aldo (Al Pacino) was in prison for tax evasion. In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir by Patricia Gucci details how traumatic Aldo’s one-year-and-a-day in prison were for the man. However, House of Gucci based its accounts of what happened during Aldo’s sentence not on Patricia’s memoir, but on Gay Forden’s book. In Forden’s book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, Aldo is described as having used his phone privileges to call a woman he had a crush on. Like the mixed reviews for House of Gucci, the real accounts of Aldo’s prison sentence are also mixed. While Patricia described the experience as distressing, even going so far as to say it left her father as nothing but a “ghost of his former self,” in In the Name of Gucci, Aldo described his time in prison as restful in a letter he wrote.
What Happened to Their Daughter(s)
In House of Gucci, Maurizio and Patrizia have one daughter who they name Alessandra. An important detail in the film is that Patrizia tells her father-in-law Rodolfo that she was the one who had the idea to name their daughter after Maurizio’s mother. In reality, the mother of Adam Driver’s perfectly cast character was named Sandra. However, in real life, the pair had two daughters. House of Gucci streamlined the story by removing Patrizia and Maurizio’s daughter Allegra from the picture.
Both Alessandra and Allegra live in Switzerland with their families now. They initially had a good relationship with their mother and made efforts to free her from prison. Allegra even went to law school in an attempt to help her mother. The relationship between Patrizia and her daughters has become strained over the years, however. Both daughters have now cut their mother off. Even without any ownership of the Gucci brand, both Allegra and Alessandra are still very wealthy, having inherited millions of dollars from Maurizio, all of the Gucci residential properties, and a yacht.
Maurizio Forged the Signature
Adam Driver’s character in the movie attempts to obtain Rodolfo’s share certificates. He does this so that he won’t have to pay inheritance taxes. In the true story, Maurizio pawned the task off onto his secretary, Roberta Cassol. When she was unable to forge the signatures herself, her assistant Liliana Colombo was the one tasked with signing Rodolfo’s name. Colombo, under the direction of Maurizio and Cassol, forged Rodolfo’s signature on share certificates for Guccio Gucci SpA and Gucci Parfums and provided multiple signatures on documents neither Cassol nor Colombo knew the names of.
In real life, Maurizio fled to Switzerland during the investigation into the forgeries. Maurizio was eventually found guilty of forging his father’s signature, but he was later acquitted. Even though Maurizio was found guilty of forging the signatures in the true story behind House of Gucci, the film insinuates it is Lady Gaga’s Patrizia who forges the signature.
The Murder Trial
House of Gucci doesn’t discuss the infamous trial for the murder that sparked the story. As part of Patrizia’s defense, her lawyers argued that she wasn’t actually threatening Maurizio. The threats she had made weren’t made by someone in a sane condition as she had just undergone brain surgery for a tumor. Patrizia was still declared fit enough to stand trial. Once the trial started, her defense switched gears and began arguing that Pina (Salma Hayek) blackmailed Patrizia and that Patrizia hadn’t had any part in the murder plot until Pina’s blackmail. Unfortunately for her defense, Patrizia did take the stand during her own trial, and when questioned about this blackmail by Salma Hayek’s character, she said she was forced to pay $365,000, but “It was worth every penny” (via The New York Times). This poked a few holes in the theory that she paid purely because of blackmail.
Women’s Roles in Gucci
There aren’t many biological Gucci women portrayed in House of Gucci. In reality, Guccio Gucci had five sons and one daughter named Grimalda. Grimalda spent years working for Gucci; however, upon her father’s death all of her brothers were given a share of the Gucci inheritance, and she was left out. At one point, she and her husband Giovanni Vitali reportedly helped to save the company from bankruptcy in the mid-1920s. One of Aldo’s sons Roberto claimed that the man portrayed by Al Pacino told him women weren’t allowed to be partners in Gucci. In her book In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir, Patricia Gucci discussed how she felt her aunt Grimalda was born as the wrong gender. Grimalda only received 12 million lire and a portion of land from her late father's inheritance despite having worked hard for the Gucci company. Her brothers blocked her attempt to have the will legally changed.
Members of the Gucci family have since spoken out about the film, complaining that it incorrectly portrayed Patrizia as a victim fighting for her place in a male-centered workplace. In a statement the heirs of Aldo Gucci released, they claimed that Lady Gaga's Patrizia wasn’t actually fighting against sexism within the Gucci brand because, at that time, there were already “several women who held top positions” (via Variety). On the other hand, one thing that may lend a bit more truth to the film over the statement they released are statements made by several Gucci women. Not only did Patricia Gucci express sorrow over her aunt Grimalda for being “born of the wrong gender” in her book, but Paolo’s wife Jenny Gucci also wrote, “It was a known fact in the world of Gucci that women were second-class citizens and would never be included in its management” in her own book titled Gucci Wars.
Even though Maurizio supervised nearly every one of Rodolfo’s visits as he began to pass away, Aldo did manage to have one conversation of note with Rodolfo, who is played in the film by Jeremy Irons. This is a conversation detailed in Patricia Gucci’s book In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir. She wrote that Rodolfo made Aldo swear to watch Maurizio and make sure that Patrizia never got her hands on the company shares. In her book, Patricia claimed that allowing Rodolfo’s daughter-in-law Patrizia to take an active role in Gucci made Aldo believe that he had let Rodolfo down by not upholding his final wishes during the events of House of Gucci.
What Did The Gucci Family Say About House Of Gucci?
The representation of Patrizia Reggiani as a victim in a male-dominated workspace wasn't the only issue the Gucci family had with Scott's depiction in House of Gucci. The full statement released by the family (as published by Variety), also claimed that House of Gucci's story presented "the Gucci family as thugs, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them." It goes on to assert, "Gucci is a family that lives honoring the work of its ancestors, whose memory does not deserve to be disturbed to stage a film that is not true and that does not do justice to its protagonists." In short, while House of Gucci's critical reception may have been mixed and its shot at the 2022 Oscars pretty much snubbed, this is nothing compared to the decidedly negative reaction that actual Gucci heirs have had to the film, which stems mainly from claims of inaccuracy.
What Did House Of Gucci Get Right?
Although Ridley Scott's movie House of Gucci takes plenty of liberties with its retelling of the events, the film truly shines in its accurate depiction of fashion from the era. House of Gucci's story ranges from 1978 to 1995, and the costumes in each scene are carefully crafted to showcase not only the Gucci family's immense wealth but also what luxury fashion actually looked like during these years. The same goes for hair and makeup, which is likely why House of Gucci was nominated for this category in the 2022 Academy Awards.