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Lawsuit causes rift between Fiat patriarch’s daughter and her son

A lawsuit brought by Margherita Agnelli de Pahlen, daughter of the late Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli, against three of her father's closest advisers, has caused tensions in the family, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In the lawsuit, Mrs. Agnelli de Pahlen asks for a fuller accounting of her father's estate, which has an estimated value of between $3 billion and $5 billion. She alleges that the advisers didn't provide a full accounting.


Relations between Agnelli de Pahlen and her son, John Elkann, Gianni Agnelli's successor "have been severely strained by the suit," the Journal article said.

The proceedings have ... left the family exposed to levels of public scrutiny that would have once been unthinkable.... Some say the dispute has knocked the Agnelli name from its pedestal. "It's a demonstration the dynasty is finished," said Giorgio Airaudo, a union official for Fiat plant workers. "In the past, you wouldn't even have known about these problems. They would have been resolved behind the scenes."


Agnelli de Pahlen's suit prompted Italian tax authorities to open an investigation into the estate, and details about Agnelli's wealth have appeared in local media.

Mr. Elkann, 33, appointed deputy chairman of Fiat SpA in 2004, has fashioned himself as the face of a new Agnelli generation that aims to keep its business affairs separate from family matters.... Analysts say the trial is pulling at the very seams of Mr. Elkann's attempt to give the family business a corporate makeover.


(Source: Wall Street Journal, Nov. 18, 2009.)

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