Billionaire Owner Of Ray-Ban Sunglasses Dies Aged 87
Leonardo Del Vecchio, executive chairman of EssilorLuxottica, the parent company of popular sunglasses brand Ray-Ban, has passed away at the age of 87 on Monday.
The company announced the death of its chairman in a statement released to the press today.
“EssilorLuxottica sadly announces today that its chairman has passed away,” the statement read, adding that the board would meet to “determine the next steps.”
The Paris-based company is the biggest eyeglass retailer in the world, as well as the largest producer of corrective lenses. It also produces frames for famous fashion houses like Prada and Armani.
Del Vecchio founded Luxxotica in 1961 with a dozen workers, making eyeglass frames designed by others, and by the late 60s, the company had begun producing its own designs. He began purchasing companies in the US in the 80s and he bought Ray-Ban in 1999 for $640 million.
In 2018, the company teamed up with French lens maker Essilor, in a major merger to become ‘EssilorLuxottica’.
Holding a controlling stake of 32% in EssilorLuxxotica, he ran the company until December 2020 when he handed over the reins to the company’s Chief Executive, Francesco Milleri, to oversee the day-to-day leadership of the company.
Prior to his death, Del Vecchio was the second wealthiest person in Italy behind only Giovanni Ferrero, Chairman of Ferrero Group which is the second biggest chocolate producer in the world. As of June 1st, he had a net worth of $25.7 billion.
Besides his work at EssilorLuxottica, Del Vecchio’s holding company Delfin Holding had interests in Italian financial companies, Mediobanca SpA, Assicurazioni Generali SpA and UniCredit SpA.
He was the biggest shareholder in the Italian investment bank Mediobanca, with a 20% stake. He was also one of the main investors at the biggest investment firm in Italy, Generali.