Leonardo Del Vecchio Dead at 87
Leonardo Del Vecchio Dead at 87

Leonardo Del Vecchio Dead at 87

January 01, 2022
Leonardo Del Vecchio

Leonardo del Vecchio, whose rags to riches story, from a childhood in an orphanage to creating the world’s largest optical company, while becoming the second richest man in Italy has passed away at age 87.

Born on May 22, 1935, Del Vecchio grew up poor in war-torn Milan. Unable to care for her son, his mother, widowed just months before he was born, sent him to an orphanage when he was seven. He began working as an apprentice to a tool and dye manufacturer in Milan when he was 14.

In the 1960s Del Vecchio moved to set up his own shop in the town of Agordo, in the Italian Alps north of Venice, from where his small supplier of eyeglass frame parts transformed into the global leader in optical, Luxottica. Del Vecchio grew Luxottica to become a leader in the design, manufacture, and distribution of some of the biggest name brands in eyewear, including  Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Arnette, Costa del Mar, and Alain Mikli, as well as licensed brands including Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Bulgari, Chanel, Coach, Dolce&Gabbana, Ferrari, Michael Kors, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., Valentino, and Versace. Del Vecchio was constantly making deal and growing Luxottica, eventually merging his company with lens giant Essilor to become EssilorLuxottica forming an eyewear leviathan with a market capitalization of about 57 billion euros.

“I’ve lost a friend, first, and a companion in this long professional adventure,” designer Giorgio Armani said in a tweet. “Your passing afflicts me deeply.” 

“Leonardo Del Vecchio was a great Italian. His story, from orphanage to leadership of a business empire, seems like a story from another time. But it is an example for today and tomorrow. RIP,” European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Twitter.

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