Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Billionaire Ray-Ban Owner Leonardo Del Vecchio Dies at 87

The business mogul leaves behind a fortune worth an estimated $29 billion.


Leonardo Del Vecchio, the second richest man in Italy and chairman of European eyewear manufacturer EssilorLuxottica has died at the age of 87 after complications with pneumonia.

Mondadori Portfolio | Getty Images

"EssilorLuxottica sadly announces today that its Chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio has passed away," the company wrote in a statement. "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."

Del Vecchio's eyewear empire is estimated to be worth 27 billion euros (roughly $29 billion) according to Reuters and includes brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley and Persol as well as successful eyewear retailers like Sunglass Hut, Pearle Vision and LensCrafters.

These companies among other assets and hefty investments are financed through his holding company, Delfin holdings, which includes merchant bank Mediobanca in which Delfin is the majority shareholder.

Delfin also owns a roughly 10% stake in Generali (the largest insurance company in Italy) and around 27% of Covivio, an Italian real estate company.

The holding company's biggest asset is in fact EssilorLuxottica, which Delfin owns 32% of after a 2018 acquisition that merged then-spectacle maker Luxottica with lens manufacturer Essilor.

75% of Delfin will reportedly be split up amongst Del Vecchio's six children upon his death, with the remaining 25% going to his second wife Nicoletta Zampillo.

As for the future of Delfin and its related assets and properties, a majority vote of 88.5% is required before any major acquisition or business decision is made.

Friends and colleagues of Del Vecchio's poured out tributes to the businessman over social media, mourning the devastating loss to the Italian business world.

"Leonardo, how many discussions, how many conversations, so much honesty to make our dreams come true," penned fashion designer and icon Giorgio Armani. "So much loyalty. I've lost a friend, first, a companion in this long professional adventure. Your passing afflicts me deeply. I hold your family close to my heart."

Del Vecchio was known for his real-life rags to riches story, as he grew up in an orphanage and began his career as an apprentice in metalworking.

"I've always strived to be the best at everything I do—that's it," Del Vecchio said in a rare interview this past May, as the business tycoon was known to keep to himself.

EssilorLuxottica employs around 180,000 people worldwide. The company was down over 3% in a 24-hour period as of late Monday afternoon.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks