The empire was built on the foundations of fashion in 1965 and it cracked this summer, at least morally, withto the fall of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, where 43 people died and left him in irreparable pain. Gilberto Benetton, one of the founders of the Benetton Group, an extremely reserved and simple man, according to those who knew him, died on Monday at age 77 in Treviso, a town to which the family company always associated his name to sponsor the legendary basketball team. His surname has marked the history of Italy in the best and worst moments and allows to explain the splendid origin of a rugged road.
Benetton, the member of the family that opened the business range of the firm beyond fashion, entered the last days in a hospital in Treviso with pneumonia and its conditions worsened in the last hours. He had created with brothers Luciano, Giuliana and Carlo, a group that was giving rise to other companies such as the society Edizione Srl, which currently holds 30.25% of the capital of Atlantia. But he was also CEO of the Benetton Group, Atlantia, Mediobanca, Pirelli & C. and Allianz, a sample of how he always wanted to expand the horizons of a firm always associated with fashion. Also thanks to the impuoso photographer Oliviero Toscani, who signed the most emblematic and provocative campaigns of the brand.
Gilberto always looked beyond. And Atalantia, of the companies controlled by the group, announced in 2017 a takeover bid on the Spanish highway concessionaire Abertis, which was finally executed in June. In October of that year, the Spanish infrastructure group ACS presented a competing offer through its German subsidiary Hochtief. Finally, last March, Atlantia and ACS reached an agreement to take control of Abertis jointly.
The drama came this summer. Atlantia, parent company of Autostrade per l'Italia, the Italian company that was responsible for the maintenance and management of the Morandi bridge that collapsed on August 15. The event, together with the death of his brother Carlo (on July 10), produced in Gilberto a nickname that he could not recover from.