Edoardo Agnelli was the only son of Gianni Agnelli, the famous Italian billionaire, the founder of the car giant Fiat, the owner of the Juventus Football Club and the international Italian newspaper La Stampa, as well as dozens of other industries and media. Edoardo was born in 9 June 1954 in New York. He spent his high school years in Italy, went to college in Britain and later entered Princeton in the U.S to continue graduate studies.
At 20, he set eyes on the Quran in the bookshelves of the university library. Reading the Quran changed his life forever. “I felt that those words are divine and cannot be written by mankind.” After two years of meticulous study, the heir to Agnelli family finally embraced Islam.
In April 1980, in the heat of the hostage crisis in Tehran after the U.S Embassy takeover, the Italian TV arranged a debate show with Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri Abyane, the then counsellor of Iranian Embassy in Italy, and the American embassy’s press officer. Ghadiri Abyane started by saying: “In the name of God who is greater than the U.S battleships.” Edoardo grasped those words with all his heart.
A week later, he rode incognito to Ghadiri Abyane’s house, using his doorkeeper’s motorbike to get there, and introduced himself. The subsequent visits and talks between them as friends led Edoardo to the turning point of his life, i.e. embracing Shia Islam. In April 1981, he travelled to Iran, participated in Friday prayers led by Ayatollah Khamenei and visited Imam Khomeini. Edoardo was the only foreigner whose forehead Imam Khomeini kissed.
After going back to Italy, Edoardo literally put all his reputation and influence at the service of Islam. He would make phone calls to government officials in different countries to condemn the crimes of the Zionist regime, and would visit publishers in person in order to prevent the publication of Salman Rushdie’s book. Gradually, pressures from his family intensified. They shoved him aside from managerial positions and cut off his income; they limited and controlled his relationships with friends. None of these, of course, were fruitful.
The next step was to frame him up and blacken his name. They sent him to a psychiatric hospital near the Italy-Switzerland border, but he escaped. In the autumn of 1990, the Italian media gave extensive coverage of the news of his being arrested in the Ivory Coast for heroin possession. However, the news of his being cleared of all the false charges received no coverage.
In the late 1990s, when his father got ill, Edoardo was under enormous pressure to give up all his legal rights to inheritance. On 15 November 2000, a dead body was found beneath the Fossano Motorway viaduct in Turin, with Edoardo Agnelli’s ID card. The media were quick to pronounce his death a suicide. But the muddy tires of his car and the shoes that were still on his feet proved otherwise.
Contrary to standard procedure, Senator Gianni Agnelli refrained from allowing a post-mortem on his son, and the next morning, Edoardo’s body was buried in his family vault in Turin, Italy.