Last Updated: May 28, 2024
Richest PoliticiansPresidents
Net Worth:
$8.5 Billion
Sep 29, 1936 - Jun 12, 2023 (86 years old)
5 ft 4 in (1.65 m)
Politician, Businessperson, Entrepreneur, Media proprietor, Film Producer
💰 Compare Silvio Berlusconi's Net Worth

What Was Silvio Berlusconi's Net Worth?

Silvio Berlusconi was an Italian entrepreneur and former Prime Minister who had a net worth of $8.5 billion at the time of his death. Silvio Berlusconi was one of Italy's longest-serving post-war prime ministers. He was also widely known for being a frequent criminal defendant and convicted tax evader. Furthermore, he was the owner of the Italian football club A.C. Milan from 1986 to 2017. Silvio Berlusconi died on June 12, 2023, at the age of 86.

Early Life

Silvio Berlusconi was born on September 29, 1936, in Milan, Italy. He was the son of a banker and a housewife. He grew up with two younger siblings, and he went on to graduate with a degree in Law from the Universita Stalale in Milan. In addition to his focus on law, he also played the upright bass. Silvio played with an amateur band for a few years and performed on cruise ships. The other members of the band would later become important figures in his business and political lives, as he appointed them to various high-powered positions in government or in his companies.

Business Career

He began his professional career with an ambitious construction project called "Milano Due," which involved the building of 4,000 apartments just east of Milan. It proved to be a successful development, and he took the money he earned from his first business venture and launched a cable television company called "Telemilano."  Around the same time, he married his first wife, Carla Elvira Dall'Oglio. Over the course of the next five years, they would have two children together.

Berlusconi first entered the media world in 1973 by establishing a small cable television company called Telemilano.

Berlusconi's breakthrough came in 1974 when he founded the television network Mediaset, which eventually grew to become one of Italy's largest media companies.

In the late '70s, Silvio launched Fininvest, a media group. Over the next ten years, he bought up multiple smaller stations until he helmed the only commercial television conglomerate in Italy. It was wildly successful, and he was pulling in $75 million per year. 

However, his methods were suspect. No one could quite figure out how his multiple channels were making money or how the money he was supposedly raking in was being spent. Adding to the controversy was the fact that there was a legal decree that stated that RAI, the Italian public broadcasting station, was the only station that was allowed to have a television monopoly. Berlusconi was forced to cease broadcasting for almost five years while the case against him went through the courts. The decree was eventually overturned.

In addition to his media empire, Silvio diversified his business interests into various sectors, including advertising, publishing, and professional football. He acquired the football club A.C. Milan in 1986, which he later sold in 2017. His ownership of the club brought both sporting success and financial gains, enhancing his reputation as a prominent figure in the world of sports.

Other interests include investments in financial services company Mediolanum, publishing house Mondadori, movie maker Medusa, and football club A.C. Milan.

Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi Net Worth / Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A.C. Milan

A.C. Milan was a nearly defunct football club when Berlusconi bought it in 1986.

Silvio sold A.C. Milan to a Chinese-led consortium in 2017. The sale was reported to be around €740 million (roughly $800 million USD at that time), including debt. The deal marked the end of Berlusconi's ownership of the club after more than 30 years. The consortium was led by Yonghong Li, a previously little-known businessman from China. However, the exact details of all the parties involved in the consortium were not entirely clear at the time of the sale. This transaction signified a significant shift in Serie A, Italy's premier football league, as foreign ownership became increasingly prominent.

Political Career

It was in 1993 that Berlusconi first appeared on the political scene, running for Prime Minister under his newly formed political party Forza Italy (Go Italy). He served as Prime Minister of Italy from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011 in four governments. Holding the Prime Minister's office for nine years in total, Berlusconi was the third longest-serving since the Unification of Italy, after Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Giolitti. Silvio was the leader of the center-right party Forza Italia from 1994 to 2009 and its successor party, The People of Freedom, from 2009 to 2013. Berlusconi was the senior G8 leader from 2009 to 2011 and holds the record for hosting G8 Summits, having hosted three Summits in Italy. During the 2013 general election, after he served 19 years as a member of the Chamber of Deputies, Italy's lower house, he became a member of the Senate. Berlusconi was the first person to assume premiership without having held any prior government or administrative offices.

In August 2013, Silvio was convicted of tax fraud by the Supreme Court of Cassation. He was sentenced to four years in prison, three of which were automatically pardoned. He was banned from public office for two years. At age 76, under Italian sentencing guidelines, which don't typically enforce imprisonment for people over 70, he was exempted from direct imprisonment, and instead, he served his sentence by doing unpaid social community work.

Silvio Berlusconi Net Worth

Giorgio Cosulich via Getty Images

Due to his being sentenced to imprisonment for more than two years, an Italian anti-corruption law led to the Senate expelling him and barring him from serving in any public or legislative office for six years. He pledged to stay the leader of Forza Italia throughout his sentence and public office ban. After his ban ended, he ran for and was elected as an MEP at the 2019 European Parliament election. Often accused of being an authoritarian leader, Berlusconi was known for his populist political style and brash personality. Silvio has remained a controversial and sometimes divisive figure among public opinion and political analysts. His supporters point to his charismatic power and leadership skills, along with his fiscal policy based on tax reduction. He has sought to maintain strong and close foreign relations with the United States and Russia. Berlusconi became known for publicly making gaffes or insensitive remarks. A number of political commentators and writers consider his success a precedent for the 2016 election of real estate tycoon Donald Trump.

Personal Life and Health Problems

Silvio married Carla Elvira Dall'Oglio in 1965. They had two children, Maria Elvira and Peter Silbio. Berlusconi had an affair with actress Veronica Lario, with whom he had three children, Barbara, Eleonora, and Luigi. He divorced Dall'Oglio in 1985 and married Lario in 1990. Their wedding was a notable social event, as at this time, he was a well-known entrepreneur.

In May 2009, Lario announced that she was filing for divorce from Berlusconi.

Silvio had ten grandchildren.

He was hospitalized for heart problems and a stroke in June 2016, just after the campaign for local elections. He had heart surgery to replace a defective aortic valve. Berlusconi tested positive for COVID-19 in September 2020. He was admitted to the hospital with severe symptoms. After he was discharged, he described COVID-19 as being the "most dangerous and frightening experience" of his lifetime. He was hospitalized once again in May 2021 due to ongoing COVID-19 long-term symptoms.

Silvio Berlusconi died on June 12, 2023, at the age of 86.

Over the course of his career, Silvio was the subject of bribery, drug trafficking, money laundering, defamation, illegal land acquisition, tax evasion, embezzlement, tax fraud, false accounting, and extortion charges leveled at him by multiple parties in the late '80s and early '90s, as he worked to grow his media empire. He was acquitted of many of the charges, or the cases were dropped due to lack of evidence or because applicable laws were changed suddenly. Between 1988 and 2004, he was acquitted of 19 major crimes. At the same time, he was found guilty of false accounting, embezzlement, perjury, and defamation. He was convicted of personal tax evasion, which led to community service and a barring from political office.

In November 2010, a 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer, Karima El Mahroug, claimed to have been given $10,000 by Berlusconi at parties at his private villas. She told prosecutors in Milan that these events were orgies her Berlusconi and 20 young women performed an African-style ritual known as the "bunga bunga" in the nude. The investigation of Berlusconi for child prostitution involving this situation has been referred to as "Ruby Gate." In 2011, he was placed under criminal investigation for allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute. He was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from public office for life, however, he appealed the sentence and his conviction was overturned.

Berlusconi came under fire for reportedly spending $1.8 million in state funds from RAI Cinema to further the career of a largely unknown Bulgarian actress, Michelle Bonev. The fact that this coincided with severe cuts being made to the country's arts budget provoked an outcry from the public.

Veronica Lario Divorce Settlement

In the wake of one of his "bunga bunga" scandals, Victoria Lario and Berlusconi separated, with Lario publicly stating she "could not stay with a man who associates with minors."

That wasn't the first crack in the pair's union. In 2007, Berlusconi got into hot water for saying to showgirl (and future Italian politician) Mara Carfagna, "If I weren't married, I would marry you immediately." This got a predictably strong response from the press, to which Lario responded:

"I see these statements as damaging my dignity. To both my husband and the public man, I therefore demand a public apology, since I haven't received any privately. I have faced the inevitable contrasts and the more painful moments that a long conjugal relation entails with respect and discretion."

Berlusconi issued a public apology and then appointed Carfagna to the position of Minister of Equal Opportunities, even though she had very little political experience. Then photos began to surface of him partying at the birthday of Noemi Letizia, an 18-year-old lingerie model. She was later hired to represent Berlusconi's political party in the 2009 European Parliament elections. Combine this with the fact that Silvio didn't even show up to celebrate his own children's birthdays anymore, and Lario was done. She threw up her hands and filed for divorce on May 3, 2009.

It took until 2012 before the entire mess was ironed out. Lario wanted everything, and she fought tooth and nail for it. Under Italian civil law, "the standard of living shared by the couple before separating must be maintained when there is economic disparity between them." She wanted their real estate holdings, their portfolio, and a stake in all of his business interests. After intense public (and occasionally nasty) negotiations, they finally worked out a deal. Berlusconi would get to keep his holdings and the portfolio, but she would be paid a child support amount that would allow his children to live at a level to which they'd become accustomed. 

So, how much did it cost to maintain the lifestyle of a family that has lived as billionaires for most of their lives? Turns out it costs $127,607 per day. Yes, you read that correctly: Berlusconi was ordered to pay a six-figure child support payment to his wife and three children every single day. He was paying just under $4 million per month

Veronica Lario and Silvio (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

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