The most important figure in the Italian economy during the second half of the 20th century was born 100 years ago
He was nicknamed L’Avvocato (“The Lawyer”) because he had a law degree (though he was never admitted to the Order of Lawyers). Gianni Agnelli, who died in 2003, was born Giovanni Francesco Luigi Edoardo Aniceto Lorenzo Agnelli in Turin on 12 March 1921. He grew up in a successful family and became the most important figure in the Italian economy during the second half of the 20th century. In 1899, his grandfather, also named Giovanni, founded the Italian car manufacturer FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino). While, in 1923, Edoardo Agnelli, who was both the son and father of a Giovanni became president of the Juventus football club.
He was nicknamed L’Avvocato (“The Lawyer”) because he had a law degree (though he was never admitted to the Order of Lawyers)
In 1938, Gianni Agnelli graduated from the Liceo D’Azeglio in Turin and started to travel and discover the world. But the world was brought to an abrupt halt by WWII. He experienced it from the inside, in the army, and despite this, he managed to graduate in law. In 1947, the link between Juventus and the Agnelli family was further strengthened, and L’Avvocato, at 26, became the new president of the Bianconeri. In 1966, after being in the role of FIAT’s CEO for three years and becoming a household name in Italian business, he picked up the company’s presidency from Vittorio Valletta. Opposed by some, supported by others. For some, he was a symbol of hard-working Italy, for others, a symbol of power. In 1983, with David Rockefeller, Agnelli founded the Council for the United States and Italy, a bridge between the two sides of the Atlantic with the US as the ideal partner for Rome’s global aspirations. Indeed, his dream was to modernize Italy, break its provincialism, and encourage citizens, businesses, intellectuals, and politicians towards future frontiers.
L’Avvocato also took part in political life. From 1945 to 1980, he was Mayor of Villar Perosa, a little municipality on the outskirts of Turing. His family’s connection to this village is such that it is here that he is buried, in the family tomb. Moreover, in 1991, President Francesco Cossiga named him senator for life and subscribed to the independent parliamentary group.