Fiat Heir Faked His Own Kidnapping, Sought Ransom for Drug Money

By McCarton Ackerman 12/06/16

Lapo Elkann was arrested after his plan to keep funding his Thanksgiving drug binge failed.

Fiat Heir Faked His Own Kidnapping, Sought Ransom for Drug Money
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The heir to the Fiat automobile fortune was arrested over Thanksgiving weekend on a misdemeanor charge, but the scandalous story has quickly picked up traction and led to a far greater punishment—worldwide humiliation. 

Thirty-nine-year-old Lapo Elkann, the grandson of former Fiat CEO Gianni Angelli, allegedly faked his own kidnapping to score more drug money after a two-day bender at an escort’s apartment in New York City, according to the New York Daily News. After flying into NYC on Thanksgiving and blowing through his money on a weekend cocaine and marijuana binge with the escort, Elkann reportedly called family members and said the woman was holding him hostage and demanding a $10,000 ransom. 

A family representative complied and dropped the money off at a Kips Bay police station for the exchange. When both Elkann and the escort appeared to collect the ransom, police took them into the station for questioning where it was quickly discovered that the bogus kidnapping report was Elkann’s idea. He was ultimately arrested and charged with falsely reporting an incident, but it’s unlikely he will serve any jail time given the crime’s misdemeanor status. 

Elkann has struggled with substance abuse for well over a decade. The New York Times reported a 2005 incident in which he overdosed on cocaine while partying at the apartment of a prostitute in Turin, Italy. He has since gone on to co-found Italia Independent, which specializes in designing high-end eyewear, as well as an ad agency called Independent Ideas. Media outlets have also named him one of the most eligible bachelors in Italy. 

“People would laugh if I say I started from ground zero, but the reality is that I started my companies from scratch,” he said last September to Vanity Fair. “My mind-set today and in those days was ‘Think like a self-made man.’”

Another heir to a vast fortune, Conrad Hilton III, was released from jail in August after spending two months behind bars on a probation violation. The 22-year-old hotel heir pleaded guilty to assault in March 2015 after threatening passengers and flight attendants on a flight to London the previous year, but broke the terms of his three-year probation sentence with numerous failed drug tests and not completing three treatment programs. 

In March 2014, the heir to the Denihan Hospitality Group died from a drug overdose. Charlie Denihan, 28, was found dead in his luxury Manhattan apartment as he lay near a pile of cocaine, crystal meth and the club drug GHB.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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