An Italian billionaire has left €75 million of his fortune to his former secretary.
‘Behind every great man is…a great secretary’ or so thought Bernardo Caprotti, one of Italy’s richest entrepreneurs who left the majority of his fortune to Germana Chiodi, his secretary since 1968.
Founder and owner of the Italian retail store chain ‘Esselunga’, Bernardo Caprotti created the first supermarket chain in Italy and his company was the first to introduce on-line shopping and self-produced organic products.
In 2014, the company had a €7 billion turnover and numbered over 20,000 employees. Controlling about 9% of the Italian grocery distribution market, Esselunga ranked the fourth most profitable company in the European retail sector (in proportion to its size) and the 23rd largest company in Italy.
Caprotti, who passed away in September at the age of 91 left the remaining 50% of his fortune to his five grandchildren, amounting to around €15 million each. His children also inherited numerous real-estate and works of art.
After hearing of the self-made billionaire’s decision to bequeath most of his fortune to his secretary, many Italian newspapers were quick to remind their readers of a feud within the Caprotti family that started in 2005.
Back then, Bernardo Caprotti decided to give 92% of his company to his two children, leaving just 8% for himself. However, in 2011 he changed his mind and took back the 92% stake. Both children attempted to sue their father over the incident but Caprotti eventually won the case.
The Millionaire Secretary
After discovering that her billionaire boss had left her €75 million, Germana Chiodi who had worked as Caprotti’s secretary for over 48 years, declared that she would leave all of the money to charity in her own will.
Chiodi was seen by many who knew her as not only a loyal and hardworking employee to her boss, but also his friend and trusted collaborator. Caprotti appeared to have an unshakeable confidence in his secretary who accompanied him wherever he went.
Asked about whether she plans to stay on at the company which is currently run by Caprotti’s children, Chiodi lamented that there was a ‘vacuum’ now that Caprotti was gone. “I don’t know what I’ll do” she said, “I’ll stay a little longer only if the family ask me to stay”.