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Tags: Italy | Obit | Del Vecchio

Leonardo Del Vecchio, Founded Luxottica Eyewear Empire, Dies

Monday, 27 June 2022 10:00 AM EDT

ROME (AP) — Leonardo Del Vecchio, who founded eyewear empire Luxottica in a trailer and turned an everyday object into a global fashion item, becoming one of Italy's richest men in the process, died on Monday, Italian authorities said. He was 87.

Luca Zaia, the governor of Veneto, the northeast region where Del Vecchio started his business in a trailer in an Alpine valley town, hailed Del Vecchio as one of the “entrepreneurs of greatest success in all the world.”

Italian media said Del Vecchio died in a Milan hospital. No cause of death was cited.

From a start in a Milan orphanage, Del Vecchio went on to become one of Italy’s richest industrialists. Globalizing fashion eyeglasses, Luxottica now makes must-have frames for dozens of stellar fashion names, including Armani, Burberry and Chanel,.

On Forbes' list of richest persons, Del Vecchio and his family was ranked last year at No. 60, with $24.5 billion.

Del Vecchio's father sold vegetables on the streets of Milan but died before he was born. Del Vecchio spent his childhood years in the orphanage. In his 20s, he worked as an apprentice making parts for eyeglass frames, then went into business for himself. He moved from Milan to the Dolomite Mountain village of Agordo in 1961, taking advantage of an offer of free land to provide jobs and discourage young people from flocking to cities for work.

What started as a company housed in a trailer steadily grew into a sprawling complex, a 90-minute drive from Venice, employing thousands of people and producing tens of thousands of frames every day.

Del Vecchio found gold by turning the rather mundane necessity of life into “designer frames” for prescription glasses and sunglasses. The Luxottica Group S.p.A. corporate website now lists 33 top brands, including Ray-Ban, Valentino, Prada, Michael Kors, Coach and Brooks Brothers.

But unlike some of Italy's flashier industrialists, like TV magnate Silvio Berlusconi and Fiat's Gianni Agnelli, Del Vecchio kept a low-profile, to the point that Italian media dubbed him “Mr. Nobody.”

He remained untouched by the corruption scandals that rocked Italian business and political power spheres in the early 1990s.

"I don't like paying taxes, but I like sleeping at night,'' Del Vecchio told The Associated Press in an interview at company headquarters in 1995.

Premier Mario Draghi, an economist who had headed the European Central Bank, issued a tribute from Germany, where he was participating in the G-7 summit.

“For more than 60 years protagonist of Italian entrepreneurship, Del Vecchio created one of the biggest companies of the country, starting out from humble origins,” Draghi said in a written statement. The industrialist “brought the community of Agordo and the entire country to the center of the world of innovation," the Italian premier said.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


GlobalTalk
Leonardo Del Vecchio, who founded eyewear empire Luxottica in a trailer and turned an everyday object into a global fashion item, becoming one of Italy's richest men in the process, died on Monday, Italian authorities said. He was 87.Luca Zaia, the governor of Veneto, the...
Italy,Obit,Del Vecchio
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2022-00-27
Monday, 27 June 2022 10:00 AM
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