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Silvio Berlusconi, billionaire media mogul and former Italian prime minister, dies at 86

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

Marco Luzzani | Getty Images

Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media mogul who served as Italian prime minister three times between 1994 and 2011, has died. He was 86.

Berlusconi died at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, according to local media. CNBC was not immediately able to verify the reports.

He served as Italian prime minister three times — from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011 — and since 2019 had served as a member of the European Parliament, where he also worked from 1999 to 2001.

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

Berlusconi suffered from several serious ailments, including Covid-19, which resulted in repeated hospitalizations beginning in September 2020.

Last month, the tycoon was discharged from hospital where he received six weeks of treatment 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 marked the end of an era.

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

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

Berlusconi was the controlling shareholder of Mediaset, Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster.
In June 2023, his fortune was estimated at around $7 billion. He also owned the Italian football club A.C. Milan from 1986 to 2017.

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At a 2009 campaign rally during his last stint as premier, he was struck in the face by a mentally ill man wielding a statuette of the Milan cathedral. The bloody attack broke Berlusconi’s nose, cut his lip and knocked out two teeth.

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

He had promised — but failed — to sell his assets in Mediaset when he was prime minister.

In 2013, Berlusconi was convicted on charges that he paid for sex with the 17-year-old El-Mahroug at one of his parties and was sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from public office for life. Two years later, Italy’s highest court ordered him acquitted. 

Berlusconi was married twice and had five children.

— CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC

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