It is best to start early In 1995, the fashion mogul Maurizio Guicci’s ex-wife went on a shopping spree in Milan to find a unique outfit.

This was in no way unusual, since Patrizia Reggiani in those days was a fashion designer and loved colourful frocks as well as film star dark glasses.

Except on this occasion she bought an elegant black suit and veil to wear to 46-year-old Maurizio’s funeral – even though he was very much alive and, by all accounts, in rude health. Patrizia was aware of what was to come.

Three months later, Maurizio awoke to find a dark-haired man approaching him behind his Milan offices. The man pulled out a gun from his back and shot three rounds into his chest.

Italy was stunned by the murder. Before the bitter divorce, Maurizio (the last Gucci family dynasty member to lead the luxury brand) and Patrizia (his flamboyant, strong willed wife), were a power couple.

Patrizia was arrested in 1997 after a tip. A Cartier search revealed that she marked the date for Maurizio’s death with the word Paradise. After a thrilling trial, she was convicted and sentenced to hiring a hitman in order to kill him.

Patrizia Reggiani's ex-best friend Giuseppina 'Pina' Auriemma (left) was convicted of acting as the 'middle woman' in the hit of Maurizio Gucci, liaising with the organiser of the murder

Patrizia Reggiani’s ex-best friend Giuseppina ‘Pina’ Auriemma (left) was convicted of acting as the ‘middle woman’ in the hit of Maurizio Gucci, liaising with the organiser of the murder

Few in this high-living couple’s gilded world were better placed than Patrizia’s former best friend Giuseppina ‘Pina’ Auriemma to observe her downfall – a story of love, betrayal, sexual jealousy and bloody revenge set against a high-fashion backdrop that is now being retold in Ridley Scott’s film House Of Gucci.

Pina, in her first interview with The Mail, recalled Patrizia’s ruthlessness. She cited the purchase of a funeral gown on a shopping trip she made that was not yet revealed.

Pina speaks out about her long-held bitterness in being drawn into Black Widow’s net and being excluded from her family. Pina was found guilty of being the “middle man” in the crime, and liaising to the organizer of the murder.

After her arrest, Pina was described in the Italian media as a maga – sorcerer or fortune-teller – and dubbed the Black Witch.

Pina (75) slams Lady Gaga, her friend from high school, and says that she is evil. This woman destroyed every aspect of my life. 

“I was a fan of Patrizia when I first met her, but after meeting again, I realize that she is a superficial narcissist who cares only about money and will do anything to get what she wants.”

Her bitterness comes in part because Patrizia insisted that Pina was the one to blame, which she vehemently denied. They both spent their sentences in Milan’s San Vittore Prison, and for many years avoided each other.

Patrizia was accused of ordering her husband’s death because she had an ‘insatiable hate’ for his new relationship with another woman.

But there were many other factors. Maurizio was forced to sell Gucci shares 18 months prior to his death. This decision was not taken lightly by Patrizia, who says everything Patrizia knew about Gucci.

It was her identity as a woman, including as an ex-wife. She was angry at Maurizio’s selling of her. 

Pina reports that Patrizia tried to kill herself from her luxurious apartment’s balcony following the divorce. She also became dependent on anti-anxiety medications and began ripping apart leather walls in an elevator.

Pina (played by Salma Hayek) is shown as an eccentric and dowdy mystic that Patrizia encounters after having seen her on a clairvoyant television show.

It was claimed Patrizia ordered her ex-husband's murder due to her 'hatred' of his new life with another woman. Pictured: Lady Gaga as Patrizia and Adam Driver as Maurizio

It is claimed that Patrizia ordered the murder of her husband because she was a hater of her new relationship with another woman. Pictured: Lady Gaga as Patrizia and Adam Driver as Maurizio

Pina claims that the reality is quite different. ‘I have never practised magic or fortune telling – I have no interest in it – and it is defamatory to say I do. 

Patrizia, Maurizio and others were obsessed with mediums and tarot cards. They would find the nearest psychic whenever they moved to a new area.

They met at an Excelsior Spa Hotel on Ischia, a volcanic island in Italy.

‘I liked Patrizia immediately,’ Pina says. Pina says that they were both in their 30s and had fun together. She wasn’t well-known back then so I didn’t know who she was. I do remember her wearing a pearl bathing suit, and she was covered in jewels.

She refused to eat. This was the norm for high society women at the time. We spent our most productive moments in the spa gossiping. Her husband came along at the end to join us. He liked champagne and ate well.

Pina’s impression of Maurizio was that he ‘seemed like a nice person, if a bit gullible and naïve, and we got on well’.

Patrizia wore pants in their relationship. He seemed totally in love with her. He could not look away from her when she entered a room.

In 1983 his father died. Maurizio inherited 50% of Gucci, but Gucci’s brand lost its luster due to the fact that its name was too frequently licensed.

Pina said that her friend, a socialite, believed she was more powerful than everyone else and thus, more Gucci. He was played by Al Pacino. She pushed Maurizio to a power struggle against his uncle Aldo.

However, her ambitions of becoming the First Lady Gucci fell flat when the company’s top executives outmanoeuvred her.

It was a difficult life for her to live as a housewife. She had a 200ft yacht, a chalet in St Moritz, an Acapulco holiday home, and a Connecticut farm. At one point, she was said to be spending £9,000 a month on orchids.

She really desired respect but it was impossible to buy.

Pina said: ‘Patrizia called me every day at night, when she was sad. She didn’t care if I was asleep. Patrizia was born to a poor mother so many women from her circle looked down upon her. 

She was referred to in the past as “daughter of waitress”, but she later resentfully said, “I am Mrs Gucci.”

Gucci was not fashionable during their first days together, so Patrizia ‘preferred Yves Saint Laurent gowns and Hermes handbags.

Pina said that she could afford to shop in a variety of jewellery stores, and had the ability to spend her husband’s hard-earned money.

She would purchase celebrity magazines every day, but didn’t have many friends. She might have met Donald Trump once at a party, but that was it and she was not close with Jackie Onassis either – that is fake news.

Patrizia was a lover of the sea, and she would often take a boat around the Greek Islands or to Porto Cervo in Sardinia.

Despite being found guilty by a court, Pina, depicted by Salma Hayek (pictured) in House of Gucci, maintains her claim that she did nothing to facilitate the murder

Pina (pictured by Salma Hayek in House of Gucci) was found guilty of the murder but she maintains that she didn’t facilitate it.

“She wasn’t a heavy drinker, and she didn’t smoke drugs. I was not allowed to go to many glamorous parties with her.

“She was actually a dedicated mother. Holidays were usually a holiday with a private chef, a couple of glasses of champagne and then bed at 11pm.

“One of her favorite things was to read thrillers, and especially murder mysteries novels. This makes me wonder how that is what gave rise to the desire to kill her husband.” 

In 1985, Maurizio – played by Star Wars actor Adam Driver in the film – told his wife he was going away on a business trip, from which he never returned.

In fact, he was in an affair, with Sheree McLaughlin from the USA, who was in her late 20s. He flew back and forth across Atlantic by Concorde before picking up his black Ferrari. 

Sheree stated last week that he was the catalyst when the movie premiered. He said that he didn’t intend to end his marriage but that he did.

Pina has a different way of remembering things. Pina says that Patrizia phoned her one day and she was screaming and crying down the telephone. Patrizia left.

‘I couldn’t believe it – Maurizio seemed so in love. I told her, ‘It’s bull****’. But Maurizio was easy to manipulate and that is why he left Patrizia – his friends were telling him to. He was weak.

Patrizia: “After the breakup I flew to New York and spent a month living with her in their luxury fifth-floor apartment in The Olympic Tower, which she designed with help from workers who had flown in directly from Italy. We didn’t go out.

‘Patrizia was hysterical, and I was worried that she would jump off the balcony. She was shouting, screaming, and couldn’t fall asleep.

Patrizia ripped the leather-lined interior of an elevator from her apartment. Although she was in love with Maurizio and her husband, she was not just mad that he had abandoned her. She was upset that she had lost the life she wanted – she wasn’t a Gucci any more.’

Patrizia described the £1 million a year alimony she received as ‘little more than a plate of lentils’. She continued to use her husband’s surname and insisted on referring to him as ‘my husband’, despite their divorce – yet also made no secret of her loathing for him.

The situation became critical when Maurizio separated from Sheree, got engaged to artist Paola Franchi, and sold his remaining stock in Gucci for around £120 million, meaning Patrizia’s daughters Alessandra, 45, and Allegra, 40, would not take over the firm.

Pina claims that Patrizia was obsessed with securing control over their yacht, Creole and Oeil Bleu. This is the third villa in St Moritz belonging to the family.

Pina says Pina that Pina asked everybody, “How can you kill your husband?” Because I was from Naples, she believed I could assist because I am associated with the Mafia. 

Pina recalls Patrizia's ruthlessness, typified, she says, by the prematurely purchased funeral outfit on a shopping trip that was a secret. Pictured: Lady Gaga as Patrizia in House of Gucci

Pina recalls Patrizia’s ruthlessness. She cites the purchase of a funeral gown on a trip she made that was a surprise, as well as her impulsive purchases. Pictured: Lady Gaga as Patrizia in House of Gucci

Pina maintained her innocence despite being found guilty in a criminal trial. Pina does confess to taking money form Patrizia but claims that this was a fraud.

She says that her fashion shop had been bankrupted and she was deep in debt. So, the cash is needed. ‘Patrizia gave me 150 million lire (£70,000) in cash but I had no intention of finding a hitman – it was a scam. 

“I made the decision that Maurizio would not be able to die if she gave me all of her money. Patrizia was able to find a hitman through a friend after it had been two years since Maurizio died.

She said that she then went on a three-month shopping spree to purchase a black veil and a dress.

Benedetto Cerulo, a professional hitman, was sentenced to life, and Ivano Savioni (night porter and friend of Pina) received a 26 year sentence. Orazio Cecala, the getaway driver was sentenced to 29 year.

Patrizia was freed in 2016, and won a legal battle to keep a portion of her ex-husband’s fortune. You can see her wandering around Milan, carrying a macaw pet on her shoulders, and she recently stated that although she was not guilty, it did not make sense for her to be innocent.

Pina admits that she was guilty of the crime, despite her protestations.

“I was eating breakfast, when I saw that Maurizio had died,” she said. ‘It was shocking, and I nearly fainted.

Patrizia phoned and inquired, ‘Did your hear about the news? She was totally emotionless, and she said that she would go to the station.

“When they came to take me into custody, I told them: “Finally.” The guilt was too much for me. Many times, I had hoped to surrender but was scared and stood before the police station.

‘In prison, Patrizia offered me 100 million lire (£36,000) to take the blame. We spent our entire time together in prison trying not to get hurt again.

She added: “The saddest part for me was that Patrizia didted on my daughters and declared she would kill her husband to preserve their future and money.

“But now, they are falling out and fighting over his yacht and money. It is very disappointing.

She claims she has thoughts about Maurizio no matter what the truth is. “I am not sad about prison. I am sad about that young man who was killed.

“I am certain that I have done a horrible thing.”