Fiat family nightmare

Heir to automoblie dynasty hospitalised for drug overdose

Editorial Staff
October 20, 2005

The heir to the Agnelli business dynasty and a vice-president of Fiat Auto SpA, Lapo Elkann, was hospitalised in Turin recently for a drug overdose. Doctors affirm that the Fiat manager has suffered no brain damage. Elkann, 28, the grandson of the late Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli,heads Fiat’s Brand Promotion division. Three Fiat security guards stood watch on Tuesday outside the hospital building where Elkann is being treated. Police said he was suffering from the effects of a cocaine overdose.


Later newspaper reports claimed he had taken a potentially lethal cocktail of heroin and cocaine, washed down by alcohol. In its only statement on the case, Fiat said the manager had “respiratory problems caused by medication.” Possession of small amounts of cocaine for personal use is not illegal in Italy. Lapo has successfully launched new sportswear and leather lines with the Fiat logo to  enhance the car maker’s image. He often attends soccer matches of family club Juventus with other members of the Agnelli clan. Italy’s leading engineering union, Fiom, stressed on Tuesday that the case would not affect the company.


The Agnelli’s social and personal lives have fascinated Italians for decades, much the way the British royalty’s doings fill the pages of British tabloids. Agnelli family tragedies have elicited comparisons to those of the Kennedy dynasty in the United States. Lapo Elkann’s uncle, Edoardo, the son of Gianni Agnelli, died in 2000 in an apparent suicide. An elder cousin, Giovannino, who had been prepared to take over Fiat, died of cancer at age 33 in 1997.

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