Lapo Elkann, the grandson of Italy’s powerful Agnelli family and industrial empire worth US$3.1 billion has been arrested in New York for staging his own kidnapping in a botched ransom ploy.
The 39-year-old who co-founded luxury design house Italia Independent was charged with filing a false report after he called his family to inform them that he was being held against his will by kidnappers in his Kips Bay apartment in Manhattan.
A $10,000 ransom was requested by Elkann for his safe release but that’s not where the odd story ends. It was later found that Elkann made the false claim about his kidnapping after he had spent a cocaine-fuelled weekend with a male escort companion.
After receiving the ransom message, a representative of the Agnelli family had fronted up with the ransom money to police. Elkann and his male escort cohort were eventually found outside of the escort’s apartment where they were brought in for questioning.
It was then discovered that the elaborate kidnapping was a hoax.
News of the Elkann kidnapping first surfaced on the New York Daily News where a press officer for the New York police department confirmed that the charges against Elkann’s own fake kidnapping were true. The male escort was also charged but NYPD eventually dropped them.
Those who know of the wealthy entrepreneur’s past will also be aware of his history with recreational drugs. He once spoke publicly about surviving a drug overdose in 2005 which almost took his life but subsequently recovered from after a stint in rehab in Arizona.
In a recent interview with Sunday Times, Elkann spoke of how happy he was since his recovery. “Chemicals are no longer part of my life,” he said at the time.
“Today, living with sobriety makes life much easier. It also makes it more interesting, because you live things naturally, not doped. The dumbest thing I did was harming myself.”
Since his arrest, shares in Elkann’s Italia Independent design company have tanked.