After Silvio Berlusconi’s death, the headache of his legacy

The last will and testament of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who died on June 12, is expected to be announced on June 26. Attention is now turning to how his vast media empire and real estate holdings will be divided between his five children and his last companion, Marta Fascina.


The situation has an air of Succession, the TV series produced by HBO, which traces the transmission of a media empire. But this is the real thing, and the legacy concerns the empire built by Silvio Berlusconi, who died of leukemia at the age of 86 on June 12.



“Il Cavaliere” leaves behind a fortune estimated at 7 billion dollars (around 6.5 billion euros) by the American magazine Forbes. Businessman, media mogul, senator, three-time Prime Minister, he was considered in 2021 to be the sixth richest man in Italy and the 318th richest in the world.


His fortune stems from his career in the media, when he founded the TeleMilano TV channel in 1974, and then went on to create Fininvest, one of Italy’s leading financial holding companies. Through Fininvest, he controlled three TV channels (the Mediaset group, now MediaForEurope), Italy’s largest publishing house (Mondadori), an insurance and banking group, and Medusa, Italy’s largest advertising agency. These successes also enabled him to invest in various soccer clubs, firstly AC Milan, which he sold to Chinese investors in 2017, and then AC Monza.


Substantial assets


In 2009, Le Figaro drew up a balance sheet of Silvio Berlusconi’s assets, which included “seven sumptuous villas, 63% of the family holding Fininvest, which controls a media empire, interests in publishing (50% of Mondadori) and insurance, a fleet of private planes and helicopters, a 48-meter yacht, real estate valued at between 6 and 8 billion euros. Not to mention bank accounts in the millions.”


This report, to which must be added Milan’s Manzoni Theater, seems to be as true today as ever.


Silvio Berlusconi was once the owner of Villa Certosa, on the Costa Smeralda in northeastern Sardinia. He decided to buy this 2,600-square-meter, 120-hectare villa in 1970 from Gianni Onorato, owner of the La Voce Sarda chain, before selling it in 2012. At the time, its value was estimated at between 450 and 470 million euros.



He also owns Villa San Martino, a 3,500-square-meter former monastery in Arcore, northern Italy. The property became famous in Italy thanks to the “bunga-bunga” parties organized by Silvio Berlusconi, during which he could be seen in the company of very sexy women. In 2012, he acquired Villa Torno for 21 million euros. Located on the shores of Lake Como, it boasts 3,000 square meters of parkland and a famous neighborhood. These include George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Madonna, Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro.



Finally, Silvio Berlusconi rents a large part of the Palazzo Grazioli, located in Rome’s historic center.



Added to this is a complex network of real estate assets, in Milan and beyond, worth some 650 million euros. The Villa San Martino is obviously the most famous, where the funeral parlour was also held in private at the time of his death. But there’s also the Villa Rovani in Milan and the Villa de Lesmo in Brianza!


A complex legacy


With Silvio Berlusconi’s death, the succession game has officially opened, and no heir has really been designated. The future of Silvio Berlusconi’s financial interests will probably be divided into five equal shares for each of his children from two different marriages. Media experts believe that this will be a particularly complex exercise, as each descendant was involved to varying degrees in the late Silvio Berlusconi’s financial projects. As a reminder, his first two children, Marina and Pier Silvio, each own 7.65% of Fininvest, while the other three share 21.4% of the company, according to The Post Internazionale.



If the inheritance is divided equally between the five children, each would receive 12.24% more than they previously held. But in this way, the three children he had with his second wife Lario – Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi – would have a total of 58.14% of Fininvest shares, the addition of inherited shares to the 21.42% already owned. Marina and Pier Silvio, on the other hand, would be in the minority with 19.89% each.



But what will become of Marta Fascina, the Cavaliere’s latest companion, after their symbolic union in March 2022? It’s possible that up to a third of the tycoon’s assets will revert to the Calabrian MP, which could reshuffle the cards in the Milanese company’s power game.


According to the Italian press, it is not certain that the five heirs will decide to retain control of all the companies owned by their father, including Monza soccer club, which could be put up for sale.




Featured photo : © Press

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