Making the world’s largest eyeglass empire out of an optical workshop was how Leonardo del Vecchio made his money.
Italian billionaire Leonardo del Vecchio passed away on Monday at the age of 87. He was the largest shareholder and the head of the EssilorLuxottica business, which includes, among other brands, the eyewear producer Ray-Ban.
“EssilorLuxottica regretfully announces the passing of Chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio today. The Company offers the Family and the whole work community its sincere condolences for this tragic loss, the company said in a news release.
Del Vecchio began his career as a modest supplier of components for eyeglass frames after growing up in a Milan orphanage. With just 12 people when he started Luxottica in 1961, he fostered the business to become the biggest eyeglasses manufacturer in Italy and, following a 2018 merger with French lens manufacturer Essilor, the largest eyewear conglomerate in the world.
Around 180,000 people work at EssilorLuxottica, which also owns renowned brands like Oakley and Ray-Ban. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Del Vecchio had an estimated net worth of $24.1 billion, making him the second-richest person in Italy thanks to his controlling 32 percent ownership in the corporation.