Pret-a-Reporter

Fashion Designer Fiat Heir Faked Kidnapping to Extort Money From His Family

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Lapo Elkann

And you thought your family had a dramatic Thanksgiving weekend.

In what reads like a storyline from Days of Our Lives, Italian fashion designer Lapo Elkann — who also happens to be the grandson of ex-Fiat CEO Gianni Agnelli and the former assistant to Henry Kissinger — cooked up a scheme to fake his own kidnapping with the hopes of extorting money from his family after he depleted his funds during a two-day bender. 

The New York Daily News first reported that the 39-year-old, whose sunglasses company Italia Independent has collaborated with Jeremy Scott and Adidas, and whose shades have been worn by Nas and Rihanna, ran out of money during a drug- and alcohol-fueled weekend with a 29-year-old escort in Kips Bay, Manhattan.

Elkann reportedly called his family and requested a $10,000 ransom in order to ensure his safety from a woman who was holding him against his will. Working with NYPD, a representative from his family organized a drop off location, and when Elkann and the escort arrived to pick up the cash, the pair were taken in for questioning. According to the Daily News, the police deduced that the designer had single-handedly concocted the false story and ransom plan, at which point he was issued a desk appearance ticket for falsely reporting "unlawful imprisonment." 

This isn't the first of the Italian entrepreneur's scandals. In 2005, Elkann reportedly came close to death after overdosing in the apartment of a transgender prostitute in Turin, Italy. Following a period of rehabilitation, Elkann launched Italia Independent in 2007. In 2011, he orchestrated the collaboration between Gucci's then-creative director, Frida Giannini, and Fiat on the Gucci Special Edition Fiat 500.

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