Who Was Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and How Did He Earn His Fortune? Everything to Know About the Controversial Media Billionaire's Entrepreneurship Italy's longest-serving Premier died at the age of 86 on Monday, June 12.

By Sam Silverman

Photo by Simona Granati - Corbis/Getty Images
Former Prime Minister and leader of Forza Italia Silvio Berlusconi participates in the television show L' Aria che tira, on MAY 14, 2019 in Rome, Italy.

Former Italian Prime Minister, billionaire, and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi was put to rest on Wednesday, June 15, with a state funeral at Milan's Duomo Cathedral.

Italy's longest-serving Premier died on Monday at the age of 86 following a recent leukemia diagnosis, according to CNN.

But apart from his political career, he was known as a European media mogul, and the one-time owner of AC Milan soccer club — and having billions in assets.

Berlusconi leaves a legacy in Italian politics as the founder of the Forza Italia party and as a four-time Prime Minister with nine years total on the job – first serving from 1994 to 1995, then again from 2001 to 2005, 2005 to 2006, and finally from 2008 to 2011, per Reuters.

However, he'll also be remembered for some of his controversial antics, including the infamous "bunga bunga" parties and being accused of financial crimes.

Despite his setbacks, Berlusconi's businesses thrived. Keep scrolling for more details on Silvio Berlusconi's entrepreneurship.

How Did Silvio Berlusconi Make His Money? What Are His Business?

Silvio Berlusconi's entrepreneurial journey began in the 1970s with the start of his construction company Edilnord, and his Milano Duo apartment complex that can house 10,000 occupants, according to the Guardian. Prior to that, he worked as a singer on cruise ships and in nightclubs.

It remains unknown how Berlusconi garnered the capital to create Milano Duo, but the project inspired him to start TeleMilano, the first private TV company in the country, in 1973 to service tenants.

By 1978, he formed his Fininvest family holdings company and bought several other channels under the business.

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He continued to grow his assets under the holding company, in which he owned a 61.3% stake at the time of his death, per Reuters.

Under the Fininvest umbrella, he bought the AC Milan soccer club in 1986. He later sold the team in a 740 million euro deal in 2017 before buying the small soccer club AC Monza.

Fininvest is the largest shareholder of MediaForEurope (formerly Mediaset), Italy's top broadcaster, with a 48% stake. The company reported revenues of 2.9 billion euros in 2021, according to the outlet.

Fininvest also has a 53% stake in Italy's biggest book and magazine publisher Mondadori and a 30% stake in Banca Mediolanum, a 6 billion euro Italian asset management company.

In total, Fininvest owned a total of $5.3 billion in assets by the end of 2021.

It's unclear who will take over the family business after Berlusconi's death but reports state that his daughter Marina will be his successor.

Alleged Financial Crimes and Controversy

Berlusconi's last go as Prime Minister ended in 2011 when he stepped down after accusations arose of him throwing "bunga bunga" parties with underage women. He denied the allegations and was first convicted of paying for sex with a minor, but he was eventually acquitted, according to AP News.

In addition to the parties, investigators looked into his business dealings and found that he was using Mediaset to inflate the price of films and avoid taxes, per CNN.

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Although he was tried on 17 charges of fraud, embezzlement, and bribery, most were overturned on appeal. He was only convicted of tax evasion in 2012 and ordered to community service and banned from holding public office for six years.

However, his run-ins with the law didn't hinder his popularity. He was later elected to European Parliament at age 82 and was voted back into the Italian Senate just last year.

What Is Silvio Berlusconi's Net Worth?

Following Berlusconi's death on Monday, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimated his net worth to be around $7.6 billion, as reported by CNN.

Since his passing, it appears Berlusconi has been removed from the coveted list.

Sam Silverman

Entrepreneur Staff

Content Strategy Editor

Sam Silverman is a content strategy editor at Entrepreneur Media. She specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), and her work can be found in The US Sun, Nicki Swift, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style and Health. She writes for our news team with a focus on investigating scandals. Her coverage and expertise span from business news, entrepreneurship, technology, and true crime, to the latest in entertainment and TV news. Sam is a graduate of Lehigh University and currently resides in NYC. 

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