The Agnellis' legacy war

A trial in Turin could change the fate of one of the most prestigious families of European capitalism: the Agnellis. It could also change the control of one of the largest automotive conglomerates: Stellantis (Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Mopar, Opel, Peugeot, Ram, and Vauxhall).


Marella Caracciolo with daughter Margherita Agnelli and grandchildren, 1986

The Agnelli family is an Italian multi-industry business dynasty founded more than a century ago by Giovanni Agnelli, one of the original founders of the Fiat motor company which became Italy's largest automobile manufacturer. There are few industrialist families in Europe that were as important in the post-war period as the Agnellis.

The object of this conflict is the will of Princess Marella Caracciolo, widow of lawyer Gianni Agnelli, the last patriarch of the family. In court, Gianni and Marella Caracciolo's daughter, Margherita Agnelli, will be facing her children Ginevra, Lapo, and John Elkann, born from her first marriage to journalist Alain Elkann. The Elkanns claim they were chosen in their grandmother Marella Caracciolo's will, thus overturning the inheritance rights of their mother, Margherita, and their half-brothers born from Margherita's second marriage to Count Serge de Pahlen.

Margherita Agnelli claims that the Swiss wills are changed and falsified. She also claims that the inheritance pact she signed in Geneva in 2004, whereby she accepted 1.2 billion euros of her father's estate, thus giving up her mother's inheritance, is invalid. She claims her mother's home in Switzerland was a sham.

Margherita Agnelli submitted memoirs to the court in Turin in support of the thesis that her mother lived in Italy. In them she reconstructed day by day the last fifteen years of Marella's life. She unleashed the Swiss private investigators, including swiss east affairs gmbh. The investigators recovered the employment contracts of servants and drivers, questioned the large number of service personnel between Villa Frescot, Rome, Morocco and Gstaad. They traced the flight plans of the private planes and helicopters that took Marella Caracciolo from Tourin to Marrakesh and from Tourin to Gstaad and they examined all of the Moroccan entry and exit records in cooperation with the Moroccan authorities. According to the findings of the private investigations, Marella Caracciolo spent more time in Morocco than in Switzerland — where she would holiday for an average of only two months a year — while most of her life was spent between Rome and Villa Frescot and Villar Perosa in Turin.

The tremendous work that Margherita Agnelli's Zurich pool of private investigators has done could lead to an excellent outcome because their findings leave no doubt as to Princess Marella Caracciolo's existing home, and the applicable Italian law. Italian law does not provide for overruling natural heirs through wills.

It is not just a matter of money and inheritance. At stake are Dicembre’s shares, the holding company of the Agnelli family, which controls Exor, Stellantis, Ferrari, Iveco, Cnh, Juventus, the newspapers Repubblica and La Stampa: a fortune of 25.5 billion euros, and the fate of thousands of workers. However, the case before the judges in Turin is not just a personal business: hundreds of millions of euros in unpaid taxes could go back to the Italian state.


In the media: