While sitting doing a CV for a friend of my son’ who wants to enter the travel industry I glanced over a the local paper on the table opposite and saw a beautiful boat. It was the M.V. Blue Force and had sailed into Brindisi harbour. She was voted best yacht in the Mediterranean a year or so ago and was bought for €20 million. I returned to Archie’s CV but then my curiosity got the better of me. Which Italian businessman owned her and idly I wondered what his CV looked like. Well it’s owned by Flavio Briatore and maybe like I did this morning you are now thinking who ? Well lets take a look through his CV shall we. He is 63 years old and married to an Italian model 30 years his junior who was the Wonderbra model.
Although the son of two teachers he flunked out of State High School and received a diploma from a private school in Land Surveying with the lowest mark that year. He became a ski instructor and opened a restaurant that went bankrupt. After a spell selling door to door he ended up on the Italian stock exchange ( like I said you couldn’t make this up) and there met Luciano Benetton and they became friends. With another friend he started a paint company and was done for fraud receiving a 1 year prison sentence. Then he received a further 3 year sentence for his role as part of a team of tricksters who ran a rigged card game scam. Still with me ?
Rather than serve the sentence he left Italy and went to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. His friend Benetton had him open a couple of stores there and then when Benetton moved into the US he made this pillar of society his V.P. Americas. He received a cut of all 800 franchise shops that were opened but the business went sour and 600 shops closed . Flavio was out on his ear but not for long.
He turned up at a Formula One Australian Grand Prix where he famously declared that motor racing bored him. So Benetton made him head of his Grand Prix team. Well you would wouldn’t you.
His success was employing one Michael Schumacher and in 1995 they won the Constructors Championship though there were several fines for alleged cheating. When Schumacher left in 1996 Benetton success also went and in 1998 Flavio was replaced. Until 2001 he sold Renault engines and then headed up Renault’s racing team. There he recruited Alonso as driver and won two championships before Alonso left in 2008. During that period Renault were found guilty of having obtained information on the design of the cars of their main rival Maclaren. Then in 2009 Flavio left Renault after they declined to defend the charge that he had ordered a driver to crash a car so the Renault teammate could win the race. Flavio since then has been buying selling and losing various businesses.
Flavio is estimated to have made about €115M out of Formula One. Hence the yacht. I have told my son’s friend that if he wants success he needs to practice playing cards.
But the best was yet to come in 2010 after all of the above the Italian Supreme Court ruled that they felt he had been rehabilitated and quashed the 1980’s prison sentences. You just couldn’t make it up.