When Allegra Versace was 11 year old, her famous uncle Gianni Versace was tragically murdered by a deranged fan outside his Miami mansion. Gianni, who had no children of his own, left 50% of the fashion house that bared his name, to his favorite niece Allegra. Gianni left 20% of Versace to his sister Donatella and the remaining 30% to his brother Santos. Allegra was instantly worth hundreds of millions of dollars on paper. But what happens when an 11-year old inherits 50% of one of the world's most recognizable fashion houses and subsequently a gigantic personal fortune? How does a life lived in the spotlight of the Italian fashion world prepare a young woman for the life ahead of her? As if her life hasn't been crazy enough so far, soon the Versace family is expected to sell a 20% stake in their fashion house to a private equity firm. If this deal goes through as planned, Allegra could become a billionaire overnight.
Allegra Beck Versace was born on June 30, 1986 to designer Donatella Versace and ex-fashion model Paul Beck. She grew up in Milan, where she has been described as being a very smart, shy, and serious little girl who always had her nose in a book. Allegra was her uncle Gianni's favorite niece. After his death in 1997, the world was shocked the learn that his will dictated that 50% of his fashion empire as well as several incredibly valuable mansions would go directly to Allegra. That's a lot for an 11-year old to handle. Technically, Allegra officially inherited her Uncle Gianni's fortune on her 18th birthday.
Allegra spent time at both Brown University and UCLA, where she studied French, art history, and theatre. The move to Los Angeles could have turned Allegra into a Paris Hilton style celebutant, but fortunately she managed to avoid that fate. Allegra Versace has always been media-shy, avoids the limelight, and lives quiet life, rarely giving interviews. On the other hand, a life spent as the heiress to the Versace fortune has taken its toll on the young Allegra. In 2007, when she was 20-years old, Allegra underwent treatment for the anorexia she had been battling for years. Currently, Allegra Versace sits on the Board of Directors of Gianni Versace S.p.A. and divides her time between her mother's home in Milan, the SoHo home of her cousin Antonio in New York City, and a house in Los Angeles.
From the outside looking in, Allegra has been handed a tough road to run. Sure, she's worth as much as hundreds of millions of dollars, but at 27-years old, is she prepared to work with her mother Donatella and uncle Santos to guide the venerable fashion house known for its gaudy, colorful, over the top styles back to the top? The economic downturn wasn't easy on the house of Versace. Their homegrown Italian rival Prada, with its more subdued styles, lines, and colors, outperformed Versace for several years.
Since Gianni's death, Versace has struggled to recapture the success it had when the flamboyant designs of Gianni defined the label. Donatella has taken over the design duties since her brother's death. Sales have dropped. It's not just the economy going bad, it is also the subtle shift in design at Versace after Gianni's death as well as changing tastes. Brands like Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana have stepped up and grabbed the fashionistas that used to flock to Gianni Versace for his brash and sexy styles.
In an effort to bounce back, the family, led by Santo Versace, is expected to sell a 20% stake in the company to a private equity firm some time in January 2014. The investment will infuse Versace with a little more than $200 million in cash. Allegra Versace is not expected to dissent to this course of action, but, according to reports neither she nor her mother are willing to give up any of their shares. Any shares sold would come from Santos' 30% stake in Gianni Versace S.p.A..
The valuation of Versace is as aggressive as the bright colors Donatella favors in her designs. The house itself places their value at $1.4 – $1.8 billion. The cash infusion is expected to redefine the brand's direction by opening more company owned stores, regaining control over licensed products, and expanding Versace's reach into China.
If Versace is indeed value at a lofty $1.8 billion, Allegra Versace's 50% stake will be worth $600 million. Combine that amount with the wealth she has already procured over the last 15 years and Allegra's net worth could potentially top $1 billion. The company is also planning to go public in the next 3-5 years. If that happens, who knows how high Allegra's stake will reach. It will definitely be interesting to see what happens over the next few months and years.
For now, Versace is run by the very capable hands of CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris, who joined Versace in 2009 after a successful revival of Jil Sander. The company is expected to have earned roughly $100 million in revenue for 2013, it's best year of all time. Allegra Versace has grown up in the fashion world. Whether she takes a bigger role in the running of the company she is the major shareholder in or not remains to be seen. She has certainly been dealt a unique set of life circumstances.