Everyone knows Gucci. Even people who aren’t into fashion have heard of Gucci or have seen the two connecting G’s somewhere on a bag, belt, or watch. Gucci is counterfeited more than any other brand.
A brand like Gucci is bigger than its current collections. It’s more than a fashion label. It’s an icon. It started with the Gucci family, who have such a dramatic story behind them that it’s hard to believe it’s true. But it is.
So who owned Gucci? What happened to them? And who owns Gucci now?
I’ll start with some history…
A man named Guccio Gucci started the business back in 1906, selling saddlery and other products for his hometown. In 1921, Mr. Gucci opened his own shop to sell leather luggage. This is when his wife and children started working in the shop, too. Soon Gucci could open up a workshop where local craftsmen made leather goods. By 1937, Gucci had launched its handbags.
His son Aldo became more and more involved when he started working in the family business. Eventually, he was able to convince his father to expand with a new shop in Rome. In this shop, they sold accessories like gloves, wallets, and belts.
The brand grew
It was under Aldo’s direction that Gucci grew to be a worldwide brand. After the war, Guccio Gucci divided the shares of the company between his three sons. These were Aldo, Rodolfo and Vasco. Guccio Gucci passed away in 1953.
In November of that year, the first Gucci store in the US was opened by Aldo. It was located on 58th Street and 5th Avenue in New York. In 1960 the second US store opened, and in 1973 the third US store opened. They were both also located in New York.
In 1964, the two connecting G’s logo was introduced. To this day, this is what most envision when they think about Gucci. Gucci was now introduced in America, Europe, and Asia. As the brand grew, so did the family.
The drama starts…
The third generation of the family now became involved in the Gucci empire, and this is where the drama starts. Rodolfo and Aldo’s sons had their own take on how the family business should be run. When Vasco passed away in 1974, Gucci was owned by the two brothers Rodolfo and Aldo, and their sons Paolo, Maurizio, Giorgio, and Roberto are also involved in the company.
From here on, the drama slowly starts, getting worse through the late seventies and escalating in the eighties.
I won’t go into detail about whom did what to whom and why, but the family drama caused Gucci to be in the headlines constantly during the eighties. However, all publicity is good publicity, and this might be the secret to the success of the Gucci brand.
And the drama continues…
Two of Aldo’s sons try to start their own brands, Gucci Boutique and Gucci Plus. This causes problems, and the family gets wrapped up in lawsuits and fights over who should own what.
Meanwhile, Rodolfo passes away in 1983. He left his shares to Maurizio, which makes him the biggest stakeholder. He now owns the company together with his uncle Aldo. Aldo has been in the company longer but, due to share ownership, now has less say than his nephew. He, therefore, sues Maurizio.
Aldo claimed that his brother Rodolfo’s signature on the papers giving Maurizio his shares was forged. Maurizio then starts a legal battle with his uncle Aldo for full control of the company. This is when Aldo was sentenced to a year in prison for tax fraud. He was 81 and had only 16.7% of Gucci’s shares left in his possession. Maurizio now had full control of the company.
Who Owns Gucci? – Success!!!
In spite of, or maybe because of, all the family drama, Gucci became extremely successful in the seventies and eighties. Starting as an exclusive brand from Italy, its first sales in the US were to Hollywood stars and high rollers that could effort such an expensive brand. The Princess of Monaco was a very well-known Gucci admirer.
Gucci also had collaborations with Rolls Royce, Cadillac, and other exclusive brands. And brought out a perfume and its first watch in 1972.
All this success meant that Gucci had to start mass production of their products. Between 1981 and 1987, their sales reached $400 million. But this mass production made it hard for Gucci to keep its position as an exclusive and luxurious brand. It became almost mainstream which meant that Gucci became much less popular with the rich and famous as they had more access to newer, more exclusive brands.
The end of the Gucci family ownership
In 1988, Maurizio sold a percentage of his shares. The investment fund Investcorp, based in Bahrain and founded by Nemir Kirdar, bought 47.8% of Gucci. Maurizio then went on to hire Dawn Mello as Executive Vice President and Chief Designer and gave her the mission to make the brand exclusive again.
She then reduced the number of stores from 1000 to 180 and the number of items sold from 22,000 to 7000. She also moved the headquarters from Milan back to Florence.
Investcorp takes over…
Gucci’s finances were still in the red in 1993, and Maurizio was blamed for wasting money. Investcorp bought the remaining approximately 50% of Gucci in 1993. This was officially the end of the Gucci family being involved in the company.
In a very dramatic end to this family’s legacy, when Maurizio was visiting Gucci’s office in Milan in 1993, he was shot dead in the lobby. His ex-wife was accused of hiring a hitman to murder him and then served 16 years in jail.
A new beginning
In 1994, Dawn Mellow hired Tom Ford as the Creative Director of Gucci. In the same year, Domenico De Sole, who had been legal adviser to the Gucci family since the 1980s, became the CEO of the company. He raised Gucci’s advertising budget from $6 million to $70 million in 1997.
From 1995 to 1997, Investcorp sold its interests in Gucci for around $1.9 billion. The French luxury conglomerate LVMH had been buying Gucci shares discreetly starting in 1995. By 1999 they reached 34% ownership of the Gucci Group. It was then that Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole turned to François Pinault, asking him to invest in the company so that they would escape LVMH’s control.
In March 1999 Gucci Françoise’s group Pinault Printemps Redoute bought 40% of Gucci. This started a long court case with LVMH. PPR eventually won, and in 2004 they completed their purchase of Gucci with an $8.8 billion deal. Pinault Printemps Redoute is now known as Kering. Gucci is still a subsidiary of this French multinational.
Kering is a French luxury goods conglomerate. It is founded by François Pinault, and its current CEO is his son François Henry Pinaut. Apart from Gucci, it also owns brands like Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Alexander McQueen.
Interested in a Career in Fashion?
However, if you want to know who owns other popular brands, then check out our comprehensive guides on Who Owns Zillow, Who Owns Zelle, Who Owns Dr. Pepper, and Who Owns Popeyes? Or, you might be interested in knowing Who Owns Mint Mobile or Who Owns The Jordan Brand, both of which might surprise you, and finally, Who Owns Fox News, Who Owns Wayfair, Who Owns Cash App, and Who Owns Volvo in 2023.
Who Owns Gucci? – Final Thoughts
After three generations and a lot of fighting between brothers, nephews, uncles, cousins, and ex-wives, Gucci was bought by Kering and is now a subsidiary of this French conglomerate.
It is not owned by a person or a family anymore, but by a company that is led by François Henry Pinaut. Kering is owned by numerous shareholders, with 41,7% of it being owned by Artémis, which is controlled by the Pinaut family. The rest of the shares are mainly owned by institutional shareholders, although a small percentage are owned by individuals and employee shareholders.
Enjoy your Gucci!