“Everything can be taken away from us when we disappear. In our lifetime, everything is lent to us. Everything”. Gianni Agnelli saw the inevitable. Fate decided otherwise, and he had battled with prostate cancer. 9 years ago today, the world lost one of its most important figures. A man with an extraordinary power that was often described in Italy with the joke of the Pope celebrating Mass in St.Peter’s Square, when a small kid would go on and ask his relatives who the man is with the skull cap next to Mr. Agnelli.
[artwork by Zafar Khudayberdiev / @bianconerifan]
Gianni Agnelli, so called for the only reason to distinguish him from his grandfather Giovanni Agnelli was also referred to as ‘l’avvocato” which in English means “the lawyer”, “the attorney”, because he had studied law even though he never practiced it.
Little do we know about his life. It’s being said Gianni remained a mystery in some of his characteristics even to his closest friends. He was outgoing and polite, in a way, that was one of his strategies of keeping people at a distance. He of course loved to have people around him, but even amidst them (in larger events) he was alone. Gianni as described by his friends, was never the one to ask for help with any problem, personal or business.
He always refused to have bodyguards around him. He would usually say “They see too much, and talk too much as well”, despite the fact that terrorists in Italy were becoming a greater force than the state itself. One captured terrorist testified that he once had had Agnelli in his sights but was incapable of getting off a shot. Apparently, l’Avvocato was too fast for him. His power grew daily, the state itself back then was Gianni and his FIAT. People in Italy, and mainly his employees would use the slogan “Agnelli is Fiat, Fiat is Turin and Turin is Italy”. Agnelli had a fortune estimated at more than 2 Billion Dollars and probably much more. He controlled more than a quarter of Italy’s stock exchange, and a group of enterprises that employed around 360.000 workers. The other activities were newspapers and publishing, insurance companies, food companies, engineering and construction and among the many his “Prima Amore” Juventus Football Club. Most importantly, La Stampa and Corriere della Sera (two of Italy’s three most important newspapers) gave Agnelli the “extraordinary power”.