“It is with sadness that Essilor Luxotica announces the death of its Chairman,” the group said in a statement, adding that the board of directors would meet “to determine the next steps.”
Del Vecchio grew up from her childhood in an orphanage to amass a fortune estimated at tens of billions of euros in one of the most famous poverty-to-riches stories in Italy’s post-war economic recovery.
European Economics Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Twitter “Leonardo del Vecchio was a great Italian. His story, from an orphanage to leading a business empire, sounds like a story from another time. But it is an example for today and tomorrow. RIP.” .
The Italian entrepreneur founded Luxottica in 1961, created a company that owns the Ray-Ban brand, and joined forces with France’s Essilor in a major merger in 2018.
He remained CEO of EssilorLuxottica until December 2020, when he handed the day-to-day leadership of the company to CEO Francesco Milleri. He had personally backed Milleri as head of the French-Italian eyeglass giant when the combined group was created.
Del Vecchio’s influence extended beyond his own business, and at the end of 2021, he was the second richest man in Italy after Giovanni Ferrero of the Nutella industry group, according to Forbes.
His holding company Delfin is the largest shareholder in the Italian financial services group Mediobanca and has a stake of just under 10% in Italy’s largest insurance company, Generali. It also owns about 7% of the real estate company Covivio, which is listed in both Paris and Milan
“With the death of Del Vecchio, Milan loses one of the most emblematic figures in its modern history,” Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala said on Twitter.
Shares in Mediobanca fell more than 4% after the reports, Generali fell about 2.5% while EssilorLuxottica – in which Delfin has a controlling stake of 32% – remained unchanged at just under €148 a share.
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