Journey of Hard Work: Ray-Ban Billionaire Owner Leonardo Del Vecchio Passes Away at 87 - The Scene

The business figure grew to become one of Europe’s wealthiest despite being handed over to a Milanese orphanage at age 7.

Leonardo Del Vecchio, the owner of eyewear maker EssilorLuxottica and one of Italy’s wealthiest tycoons, has passed away at 87. His firm confirmed the news on Monday. 

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“EssilorLuxottica sadly announces today that its Chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio has passed away,” they said in a press release. “The company expresses its deepest condolences to the family and to the global employee community for this enormous loss. The Board will meet to determine next steps.”

Before founding EssilorLuxottica in 1961, Del Vecchio grew up in an orphanage, making his journey one of the most famous Italian rags-to-riches stories. When his vegetable vendor father passed away, Del Vecchio’s mother handed him over to a Milanese orphanage at seven years old because she couldn’t afford to raise him. 

Rags to riches

Del Vecchio’s net worth totals $25.5 billion upon his passing, making him Italy’s richest man after Nutella-making group Giovanni Ferrero. 

“Leonardo Del Vecchio was a great Italian,” European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said in a tweet. “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.”

From his fortune owning the parent company of popular eyewear brands Ray-Ban and Oakley, Del Vecchio invested significantly in Italian finance companies Mediobanca and Generali through his holding firm Delfin. 

Today, Delfin also owns 7 percent of Covivio, a real estate investment trust company listed in Paris and Milan.

Among those who paid tribute was Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani, whose eyewear designers are solely manufactured by EssilorLuxottica

“Leonardo, how many discussions, how many conversations, so much honesty to make our dreams come true,” the designer said through his brand’s Instagram page. “So much loyalty. I’ve lost a friend, first, and a companion in this long professional adventure. Your passing afflicts me deeply. I hold your family close to my heart.”

Del Vecchio’s spectacles company also makes the eyewear of luxury brands Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Bulgari, Chanel, Tiffany & Co., and Valentino.

Banner photo from @lepiuaffascinantidimilano on Instagram.

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