Heir to FIAT fortune arrested for allegedly faking his own kidnapping

Police claim Lapo Elkann came up with the plot to cover debts accrued over a drug-fuelled weekend

Heir to FIAT fortune arrested for allegedly faking his own kidnapping

Lapo Elkann at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, Italy in 2004 [AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar/FILE]

According to New York police officers, one of the heirs to the Fiat motoring fortune, Lapo Elkann, has been arrested for allegedly faking his own kidnapping, after reports surfaced saying he was attempting to cover the expenses of a weekend of debauched partying.

According to a number of US media outlets, Elkann, who grandfather Gianni Agnelli founded the Italian motoring giant, tried to trick his family members into believing he had been kidnapped when he ran out of money to pay the costs of a weekend filled with drugs, alcohol, and sex workers.

Having run out of cash after a two-day bender during which he allegedly consumed a cocktail of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine, the 39-year-old Italian-American concocted a plan to call his family to demand a $10,000 (€9,420) ransom for his safe return. His arresting officers contend that Elkann planned to use this money to procure more narcotics, according to the US media.

But after receiving the call, Elkann’s family alerted the police, who arrested him after determining his claims to be false. He must now appear before a New York court in the new year for falsely reporting an incident.

Elkann’s brother John took over the reins of the Agnelli empire in May 2008 after being named the head of the company that managed the family’s holdings. The family still controls a 30% stake in Fiat, which saw revenues in 2015 reach €113bn.

Elkann has a history as a playboy on the New York scene and made headlines in 2005 when he slipped into a coma after taking a drug overdose. He briefly held a job in Fiat’s marketing department, but has since left the business side of the company.

Elkann’s great-great grandfather Giovanni Agnelli founded the Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, or FIAT, in Turin, Italy in 1899. The company rose to international prominence under the stewardship of the late Gianni, whose fortune made him of the richest men in Italy and the world. The family also owns the Turin newspaper La Stampa and the football club Juventus.

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