Leonardo Del Vecchio, the Italian industrialist and billionaire has diedat the age of 87. His company, the eyewear giant EssilorLuxottica SA, announced his death Monday. Del Vecchio was one of Italy’s last captains of industry and the architect of the €50B merger of his sunglasses empire Luxottica with French lens maker Essilor.
Del Vecchio served as executive chairman of the combined company until December 2020, when he handed over day-to-day operations to a chief executive. EssilorLuxuttica is the world’s biggest eyewear maker, with a market value of €65B and more than 180,000 employees. Leonardo Del Vecchio died as the company’s single largest investor with a more than 30% stake.
In 1999, Del Vecchio bought the then-struggling Ray-Ban owner Bausch & Lomb. Luxottica turned it around, improving the quality of its frames and restricting sales to higher-end retailers.