Leonardo Del Vecchio, executive chairman of EssilorLuxottica, the parent company of popular sunglasses brand Ray-Ban, died Monday at the age of 87.
The company announced the death of its chairman in a press release today.
“EssilorLuxottica announces today with sadness the passing of its Chairman,” the statement said, adding that the board would meet to “determine next steps.”
The Paris-based company is the world’s largest eyewear retailer, 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 spectacle frames designed by others, and by the late 1960s the company had begun producing its own designs. He started buying companies in the United States in the 80s and he bought Ray-Ban in 1999 for $640 million.
In 2018, the company partnered with French lens manufacturer Essilor, in a major merger to become “EssilorLuxottica”.
Holding a majority stake of 32% in EssilorLuxxotica, he led the business until December 2020, when he handed over the reins to the company’s chief executive, Francesco Milleri, to oversee the day-to-day running of the business. .
Before his death, Del Vecchio was the second richest person in Italy behind only Giovanni Ferrero, chairman of the Ferrero Group, which is the second largest chocolate producer in the world. As of June 1, he had a net worth of $25.7 billion.
Besides his work at EssilorLuxottica, Del Vecchio’s holding company, Delfin Holding, held stakes in Italian financial companies, Mediobanca SpA, Assicurazioni Generali SpA and UniCredit SpA.
He was the largest shareholder in Italian investment bank Mediobanca, with a 20% stake. He was also one of the main investors in Italy’s largest investment company, Generali.