Berlusconi's Bio

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Crooner, womaniser, jester, criminal, entrepreneur, politician: who is the real Silvio Berlusconi? Here's a bit of his story, if not a comprehensive biography. Use your best judgment.

Silvio was born 29 September, 1936 in 60 Via Volturno, Milan, from a lower-middle class family. He's zodiac is Libra (The Scales), ascendant Libra (The Scales, again). He is 165 cm tall (though there are different schools of thought and Silvio surely doesn't want to look THAT short), that is 5 Ft 5 in (“taller than Napoleon” though, as the Italian billionaire said once, but he has never produced any evidence to support the statement).

Silvio Berlusconi thumb up in a photo from the 70s
Silvio Berlusconi in the 70s
His father, Luigi Berlusconi (Saronno 1908-Milan 1989), was a banker employed by Banca Rasini, a small bank with a all but spotless reputation. His mother Rosa Bossi worked as a stenographer-typist at rubber manufacturer Pirelli.

He studied at the “Sant'Ambrogio” Salesian college (9 Via Copernico, Milan), until he was 19-year-old, when he received the certification in Classical Education (Maturità Classica).

He is a Roman Catholic, of course (apparently just like 96.9% of Italians, according to Wikipedia), even though his attitude toward holiness of marriage is a bit disputed.

According to his former classmates, he was terribly quick in finishing his tasks in class, than he would help his neighbouring desk mates, asking in exchange candies, trinkets, 20 or 50 Italian lira coins.

Silvio than attended at the State University of Milan, where he obtained a degree in Law.

Silvio Berlusconi smoking a cigarette, black and white picture
Silvio Berlusconi noir
With his friend Fedele Confalonieri (who played the piano) worked occasionally as a singer and entertainer on cruise ships, in the 50s, and as a door-to-door salesman with his friend Guido Possa. Then he decided to dive into real estate business.

In order to start his business activities, he obtained a loan from Banca Rasini, a bank (where Silvio's father used to work) that counted several high ranking Mafia members – like Totò Riina, Bernardo Provenzano and Pippo Calò – amongst its clients. It was 1961.

He started his entrepreneurial career in the 60s, in the construction business, founding in 1963 the company Edilnord sas. Business partners are the Banca Rasini's owner Carlo Rasini, and the Swiss accountant Carlo Rezzonico.

When he is 29 years old, Silvio decides to start a family. On 6 March 1965 he married Carla Elvira Lucia Dall'Oglio. She will be the mother of two of Berlusconi children: Maria Elvira, commonly known as Marina (born in 1966) and Pier Silvio (born in 1969).

In 1977 Silvio Berlusconi was nominated Order of Merit for Labour, and therefore became a Knight. Sortof. From then on he will be often nicknamed Il Cavaliere (the Knight), sometimes abbreviated as Cav. The decoration was bestowed by on of the few Italian politician who resign due to his involvement in bribery, Giovanni Leone. Coincidences? Anyhow, in March 2014 Berlusconi renounced the title, for obvious reasons... (see here our post on the subject).

In 1978 he founded the financial holding Fininvest, acquired the cable television broadcaster Telemilano, later on he will virtually gain control of 90% of the Italian TV market, via the mass media company Mediaset. In the beginning of 2013 Mediaset controlled five generalist terrestrial channels (three in Italy: Canale 5, Italia 1, Rete 4; and two in Spain: Telecinco and Cuatro) and a number of digital terrestrial broadcasters. From 1985 to 1992 Silvio also ran the French channel La Cinq (today's France 5), which went bust in 1992.

In the 80s Silvio Berlusconi will become close to the Italian Socialists, mainly with Italian Socialist Party's (PSI) head (1976 to 1993) Bettino Craxi and his brother in law and Milan's mayor (1986-1992) Paolo Pilliteri.

Silvio Berlusconi consegna la coppa del Trofeo Berlusconi a Rino Gattuso (Agosto 2012)
Silvio Berlusconi hands over the Berlusconi Trophy's Cup to AC Milan's Rino Gattuso (August 2012)

From 20 February 1986 Silvio he has been the owner of the football team AC Milan. Under his ownership the club won seven times the Italian Serie A championship and five times the European Champions League (formerly Champions' Cup). In March 2012 Silvio became (again) the president of the team. Previously he fulfilled the post of AC Milan's president from March 24, 1986 to December 21, 2004 and from June 15, 2006 to May 8, 2008. On August 5, 2016, Berlusconi family's holding company - Fininvest - announces that a Chinese consortium has agreed to buy AC Milan for €740m (£628 or $820m at the time of the agreement).

Veronica Lario, second wife of Silvio Berlusconi
Veronica Lario, Berlusconi's second wife
In 1990, 15 December, he married actress Miriam Raffaella Bartolini (commonly known as Veronica Lario, her stage name), after the birth of their three children: Barbara Berlusconi (born 1984), Eleonora Bartolini (1986, she did not take the name Berlusconi, for some reasons) and Luigi Berlusconi (1988). Eleonora did not take the Berlusconi family name, but kept her mother's name, Bartolini.

Silvio fell in love with Veronica back in 1980 as he saw her acting half naked in his own theatre, the Manzoni Theatre in Milan. Apparenty the former PM of Italy (as per May 2013) is pretty sensible to women's nudity.

Their relationship ended in 2009, when Veronica said (and publicly wrote) that Silvio hurt her "dignity as a woman", by chasing women of all ages, but mainly under-age. Silvio's participation to an 18-year-old girl - Noemi Letizia - and a gift worth 6,000 euro (equivalent of around £515 or $810, in January 2013) were the last straws...

Later the news and the scandal would spread, he would be accused of paying a nightclub dancer (the Moroccan Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby Rubacuori, Italian for Ruby Heart-Stealer) for having sex with her when she was still under-age, between February and May 2010. During that period of time Il Cavaliere would organise parties with scores of women and girls, some of them would be kept, groomed and paid for years in a residential building in Milan's.

The separation between Silvio and the former actress went through a court proceeding that ended only in 2012 (on Christmas day), with a settlement that involved a monthly alimony of 3 million euro (that is £2.6m or $4m if exchanged at the rate of January 2013) to be paid by the former prime minister to his former wife. On the other hand, Silvio Berlusconi will repossess the eighteenth-century Villa Macherio, where Veronica used to live with two of her children. 

The political career of Silvio Berlusconi (which has a dedicated page on Wikipedia) started in 1994, when he declared he had "to take the field", in order to save Italy from the Communist menace. He then created from scratch a political party - Forza Italia ("Go, Italy!" or "Forward, Italy") - in order to win a term as a prime minister. He succeeded, though Academy Award winner actor and director Roberto Benigni couldn't believe it.

In 2002 he said: «I am absolutely certain to be the most democratic man to ever become prime minister in Italy», one of the numerous quotes that made Berlusconi famous. An example of Berlusconi's funny vein, someone could observe.

Silvio is a bit like Marmite, somebody said: either you love him, or you loathe him.

From 8 May 2008 he has become, for the fourth time, Prime Minister of Italy, after having failed in previous elections - in 2006 - when he lost to his arch-enemy Romano Prodi.

Having served for three terms in office, Silvio Berlusconi is Italy's longest lasting post-war prime minister. In 2012 he declared he will seek a fourth term in 2013 elections. Then he said that he won't. Than he said he might do it. And he went on for a while with this. He is one of the country richest men. In 2011 he was the 3rd richest man in Italy, and the 188th richest man in the world.

Silvio Berlusconi joyfully playing with girlfriend Francesca Pascale
In December 2012 - as his separation with Veronica Lario became publicly official - Silvio announced his engagement, with a Neapolitan young girl 50 years junior of him, Francesca Pascale. Before that, many young women have stated to have been Berlusconi's girlfriend, even if Silvio is a bit long in the tooth compared to them: showgirl and politician Nicole Minetti, Montenegrin beauty Katarina Knezevic, Bosnian-German actress Sabina Beganovic, model Roberta Bonasia, actress Evelina Manna, and so on... the Berlusconi's women is pretty lengthy!

On 24 June 2013 Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to a 7-year term in prison, found guilty of having abused the power of his office (as a prime minister) and having sex with a under-age prostitute (Moroccan stripper Karima El Mahroug, commonly known as Ruby the Heartstealer). 1 August 2013: the Supreme Court upheld a four-year term in prison for tax fraud. It's the first time that Silvio Berlusconi is convicted with a final sentence, as he ran oput of appeals. 

Silvio is also known as Il Cavaliere (The Knight, sometimes abbreviated as “Il Cav”), His Broadcasting (being the undiscussed master of Italian television broadcasters), Il Presidente (being - or having been - chairman to several companies and AC Milan), Lo psiconano (The Psychic Dwarf, as Beppe Grillo and other opponents call him), Il Caimano (The Caiman, from a film by Nanni Moretti) and so on. Younger girls he is fond of would call him just Papi (Daddy), others just Berlusca. Apparently he had been called Betty as well, to disguise his identity when involved in organising bunga-bunga parties.

On November 22, 2013 the Berlusconian newspaper “Il Giornale” compared Silvio to the late JFK, whose death happened exactly 50 years before. Possibly not because his height, nor because of his pulchritude. In the past Berlusconi's supporters likened their leader to a number of people - most of them had spent sometime in prison, the point being that Silvio's main adversary is the wicked Italian judiciary - as Nelson Mandela and suspected murderer Amanda Knox.

He is said to be a vain person. His vanity lead him to use hidden high heels to disguise his real height and undergo surgical intervention for having his hair transplanted and several facelifts.

Many of his public (and less public) manifestations are collected on videos uploaded to the YouTube channel we have dedicated to him, the Berluschannel. On the channel you can find also shootings involving Silvio's women, Francesca Pascale, Nicole Minetti, and many, many others.

(to be continued)