Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has died, Italian media experiences

Silvio Berlusconi gestures before a 2016 football match between his AC Milan and SS Lazio in Milan, Italy.

Marco Luzzani | Getty Images

Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media mogul who was Italy’s prime minister three times between 1994 and 2011, has died. He was 86.

According to local media, Berlusconi died in the San Raffaele hospital in Milan. CNBC could not immediately verify the reports.

He has been Italy’s Prime Minister three times – from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011 – and has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2019, where he also served from 1999 to 2001.

His party, Forza Italia, is currently a junior partner in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s ruling right-wing coalition.

Berlusconi suffered from several serious illnesses, including Covid-19, which led to repeated hospitalizations as of September 2020.

Last month, the tycoon was discharged from the hospital where he was treated for six weeks for a lung infection linked to chronic leukemia.

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said via Twitter that Berlusconi’s death leaves a “huge void” and marks the end of an era.

“I loved him very much. Goodbye Silvio,” Crosetto said, according to a translation.

Born on September 29, 1936, Berlusconi faced numerous scandals and lawsuits over tax schemes and sexual escapades. He was once convicted but later acquitted for having sex with underage nightclub dancer Karima El-Mahroug at one of his wild “bunga-bunga” parties.

Berlusconi was the majority shareholder of Mediaset, Italy’s largest private broadcaster.
As of June 2023, his fortune was estimated at around $7 billion. He was also the owner of Italian football club AC Milan from 1986 to 2017.

At a campaign rally in 2009, during his last term as prime minister, he was hit in the face by a mentally ill man with a statuette of Milan Cathedral. The bloody attack broke Berlusconi’s nose, cut his lip and knocked out two of his teeth.

His nine years as prime minister made him the third longest-serving head of government in Italy, after fascist dictators Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Giolitti.

When he was prime minister he had promised to sell his shares in Mediaset but failed.

In 2013, Berlusconi was convicted of paying for sex with 17-year-old El-Mahroug at one of his parties and sentenced to seven years in prison and a lifetime ban from working. Two years later, Italy’s highest court ordered his acquittal.

Berlusconi was married twice and had five children.

– CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report.

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