A portrait of Lapo Elkann: Between drug addiction and entrepreneurship


Lapo Elkann is the great-grandson of one of the founding members of the largest Italian car brand Fiat: Giovanni Agnelli.

The 42-year-old entrepreneur has tried his hand in the automotive and fashion industries, but is always struck by escapades.

So he flew from the family business because of his cocaine and heroin addiction and has been arrested several times. A portrait.

There are many prejudices about siblings. The oldest are more intelligent, it is said, the little ones would rather turn to artistic activities, while firstborns would follow in their parents’ footsteps. And the middle child? This often falls by the wayside, has to compete for the attention of parents and fight its way out of the shadows of its bigger siblings.

If you look at the CVs of the siblings John, Lapo and Ginevra Elkann, these prejudices become hard facts. As the first-born, great-grandson John now heads the family company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and as a nestling and only daughter, Ginevra has turned to (film) art. Meanwhile, Lapo stands out more because of his (involuntary) appearances in the tabloid press.

He is referred to as the enfant terrible of the Italian car nobility, as a bon vivant who maybe goes a little too often. “The craziest story of the year! Fiat legacy with
Transgender whore arrested, “headlined the” Bild “newspaper half a decade ago about one of the younger escapades of the 42-year-old motorsport enthusiast. But apart from the headlines and derailments, Elkann has accumulated a considerable portfolio of entrepreneurial efforts over the years and looks back on an eventful career.

A look back at the not so old life of Fiat great-grandson Lapo Elkann.

From the assembly line to the executive floor

Laurent SOLA / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Lapo Elkann was born in 1977, just under a year and a half after his brother John, in New York as the son of the writer and journalist Alain Elkann and the Fiat heiress Margherita Agnelli. As the grandson of the then Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli and the great-great-grandson of Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli on the one hand, as a descendant of the French banking family Elkann and the Italian banking family Ovazza on the other: Italian car nobility met one of the most influential Jewish Italian / French New York families.

After a privileged childhood, Lapo Elkann went to high school in Paris and then to the prestigious private university European Business School in London to study international relations. Like all members of the Agnelli clan, he began his career in the automotive industry as an assembly line worker in the factories of the moped maker Piaggio in the early years in addition to school and university. After completing his studies, positions in the marketing departments at Danone and, more appropriately, at Ferrari and Maserati follow.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Elkann began working as a personal assistant to the German-American politician Henry Kissinger, even when he headed the committee for investigating the attacks for a few weeks in 2002 before he resigned. After returning to Italy from the United States, Lapo Elkann finally started working directly for the family business Fiat in 2002 and was appointed head of marketing for the car manufacturer in 2003, managing the marketing of the Fiat Punto and Fiat 500, among other things.

Speedball coma and prostitution

Lapo Elkann 2005.


Lapo Elkann’s trip to the Fiat executive floor shouldn’t last too long because he only had to leave the family business two years later. The reason: a speedball overdose that ended for Elkann in a three-day comatose hospital stay. The drug scene refers to the joint use of heroin and cocaine as a speedball, the consequences of which have already led to famous personalities such as John Belushi, River Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

A city-famous Turin transsexual prostitute, in whom the Fiat heir had celebrated with other people from the red light milieu, informed the police. In the investigations resulting from the fateful night, it was found that Elkann often used mind-expanding drugs, as the Italian daily “La Repubblica” reported of his time. A short time later he resigned from his position as head of marketing and returned to his home country, the USA. There he went to a rehabilitation facility in Arizona.

He returned to Italy two years later and in 2007 founded the Italia Independent fashion brand, which is mainly known for sunglasses made of carbon and with which Elkann ventured to the Italian stock exchange six years after its founding in 2013. A separate agency called Independent Ideas followed. Then everything seemed to be going well for many years, for the little brother of the boss of the Fiat Group.

A “kidnapping” and a car accident

Felix Magno / GC Images via GettyImages

The collaboration with Ferrari and Gucci and a partnership with the German model Shermine Sharivar followed until Elkann made it into the international headlines again in 2016 because he faked his own kidnapping. After spending several days partying with a transsexual prostitute in New York, they ran out of cash. However, for unexplained reasons, the million dollar Elkann did not run to the nearest ATM for supplies, but contacted his family and told them that they would have to send him $ 10,000 to be released from the clutches of his alleged kidnappers. However, she did not send him any money, but contacted the police. The charges of faking a crime were dropped, but the relationship with Sharivar was gone. And the call, again, ruined it.

According to the “Bild” newspaper, Sharivar parted ways with Elkann with these words: “Wealth does not trigger feelings … you can be as wealthy as you want – but the character remains.”

In 2017 Lapo Elkann joined Ferrari’s board, chaired by his big brother John. His second comatose stay in hospital followed last year because he was seriously injured in a car on the way from the Western Wall in Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

After his stay in the intensive care unit, Elkann promised improvement, thanked God and the European and Israeli doctors: “I want to use my time, my heart and my economic resources to do good by taking care of my non-profit organization. “After the serious car accident, he realized that he was basically an open-hearted man who wanted to do good, as the Italian version of the fashion magazine“ Elle ”reports:“ I don’t drink anymore, I don’t use any substances and two months ago I also stopped smoking, ”he says. Whether he really makes it this time: a life without negative headlines? It certainly won’t get boring with him.


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