Grapevine: Fiat Heir in Hospital

Lapo Elkann, stylish heir of Fiat's founding Agnelli family, was rushed to hospital early on Monday with breathing difficulties but his life was not in danger, officials said

Grapevine: Fiat Heir in Hospital

Fiat denied media reports that Elkann, who leads a high-profile social life and is head of brand promotion at the carmaker, had suffered a drugs overdose.

"Lapo Elkann was taken to hospital this morning suffering from medication-induced breathing difficulties," a Fiat spokesman said. "His condition is not worrying."

But a health official in Turin, who asked not to be identified, said Elkann had suffered "an overdose probably due to a mix of drugs".

Police were questioning three people in connection with Elkann's hospitalisation, police sources said.

The head of the intensive care unit at Turin's Mauriziano Hospital, Giuseppe Spina, said Elkann had breathing difficulties but said "his life is not in danger".

Elkann, 28, is the grandson of Fiat scion Gianni Agnelli, who died in 2003, and the younger brother of the firm's deputy chairman, John Elkann, who according to media was at the hospital to follow Lapo's condition.


Fiat and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo called out for an end to the excessive media exposure of the event and ruled out it could have effects on the company.

"I think it's time to draw the curtains of morbid curiosity over this private and personal event," he said. "What I'm interested in is for Lapo to get well soon and come back to work with the same passion and enthusiasm as usual."

While John Elkann took on Fiat's nitty gritty business as Agnelli's chosen successor, Lapo was seen as having inherited his grandfather's playboy lifestyle and glamorous image.

Since joining Fiat in 1998, he has helped to design sweaters and bags with the Fiat logo and succeeded in getting one of Fiat's Panda models into an upcoming James Bond film.

The son of Gianni Agnelli's daughter Margherita and the writer Alain Elkann, Lapo Elkann leads a colourful social life that contrasts with his brother's more retiring style, and is frequently featured in Italian gossip magazines.

The younger Elkann is often compared with his stylish grandfather Gianni. He has been listed as one of the world's best-dressed men and until recently was linked to a well-known Italian actress.

ANSA news agency and the websites of La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera papers said a woman who was with Elkann on Monday called emergency services to report his condition.

Elkann's hospitalisation was the latest hit for the Agnellis, who have been likened to the U.S. Kennedy family for the troubles that have tempered their good fortune.

Gianni Agnelli's father was killed in a plane crash when his sons were very young. The Fiat scion's nephew and first chosen heir Giovannino died at 33 from cancer, and Agnelli's son then committed suicide by jumping off a bridge in 2000.

Fiat shares dipped on reports of Elkann being taken to hospital, then recovered in moderate volume before falling back again.

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