September 11, 2020 A bad story, made up of accusations of pedophilia and attempts at cover-up, shakes the Gucci dynasty.
Alexandra Zarini, great-granddaughter of the dynasty's founder, Guccio Gucci, filed a complaint in Los Angeles accusing her mother, Patricia Gucci and her grandmother, Bruna Palombo, of failing to protect her from the sexual abuse of her adoptive father, abuses she has suffered since she was 6 to 22.
Alexandra, now a sophisticated 35-year-old lady, claims that both women knew she was being harassed continually by her stepfather, Joseph Ruffalo, Prince's music producer and former manager, and that they didn't try to defend her but instead encouraged her to keep quiet for protect the family name.
Patricia Gucci is the only daughter of Aldo Gucci, the man who transformed an artisan leather shop in Florence into one of the iconic 'made in Italy' brands.
His mother is Bruna Palombo, the shop assistant in Rome who, from a very young age, became Aldo's lover, when he was already in his 50s and had a wife and three adult sons.
When Bruna became pregnant, she was sent to England to have the baby born in great secrecy;
Patricia was 10 when she learned who the father really was and that he had another family.
But she was adored by Aldo, who made her the star of a Gucci advertising campaign, gave her a seat on the company's board at 19, and made her a traveling ambassador for the brand.
Zarini accuses his mother and grandmother of covering up the abuses to protect Gucci from another scandal: he claims that Ruffalo, former manager of Prince and of Earth, Wind and Fire, took advantage of her between 13 and 17 years, when she was living at WellsBridge House, Grandma's home in Ascot, Berkshire.
In the complaint to the Superior Court of California, he claims that his mother and grandmother tried at all costs to avoid what they perceived as a scandal that would have tainted the Gucci name and cost millions.
The first assault occurred when the little girl was just 6 years old.
One evening she went to her mother's room in the middle of the night because she had had a nightmare and was invited to sleep with Gucci and Ruffalo: she claims that she woke up in the middle of the night with one hand on the private parts of the accused.
It is only the first of a series of reported episodes.
Ruffalo, also music producer of Princess Stephanie of Monaco in the Eighties, had married Patricia Gucci in 1993: they divorced in 2010 because Alexandra Zarini told her mother about the alleged abuse.
In a statement to the New York Times, Patricia Gucci said she was shocked when she heard the revelations in the family doctor's office in September 2007 and immediately started the divorce proceedings: "I started taking care of my family with a psychotherapist. but I was devastated by the allegations against me and my mother which are completely false. "
Alexandra also accuses her mother of having tried to strangle her in the course of some quarrels: Ruffalo defended her but then took advantage of it to attempt further abuse.
The alleged abuse would have brought her to the brink of insanity, culminating in an overdose.
"I was a teenager. I was asking for my mom's attention, I just wanted to disappear from the world. I took all the painkillers I found in the medicine drawer, even Joe's Valium. I wanted to overdose on whatever I found."
Ruffalo, through his lawyer, denied everything;
and then the lawyer added: "When he was married to Alexandra's mother, Ruffalo and his wife were very concerned about Alexandra's mental health and faced the problem of her instability. Evidently they didn't get results."