Ex-Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi dies at 86

 According to aides, Silvio Berlusconi was brought to a hospital in Milan on Friday for planned leukemia-related testing.

Silvio Berlusconi, a billionaire media tycoon, businessman, and prime minister who dominated Italian public life for decades, has passed away at age 86.

The eccentric figure, who once compared himself to Jesus, served as Italy’s prime minister for the longest period of time but was also dogged by scandal.

Even after receiving a leukemia diagnosis, he continued to be involved in politics as a senator and a member of right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government.

Aside from his ownership of the AC Milan football club and his position as Italy’s richest man for a decade, Berlusconi also had a significant impact through his holdings in television, newspapers, and other media. He practically invented commercial television in Italy.

Berlusconi won over millions of Italians by portraying himself as a self-made guy who liked life and spoke his opinion, even to the point of disparaging other leaders, long before Donald Trump parlayed his financial success into a White House run.

However, his detractors saw the right-winger as a tax-dodging playboy who leveraged his enormous media empire to advance his political career before abusing his position of authority to advance his commercial interests.

He was involved in litigation for a significant portion of his life; the proceedings involving his infamous “Bunga Bunga” sex parties, which were frequented by young girls and underage escorts, were finally resolved in February 2023.

Even while he was still the leader of Meloni’s coalition’s junior partner, Forza Italia, he had mostly disappeared from public view in recent months.

Despite having worsening health issues, he continued to take pride in his appearance, always dressing sharply and never letting his slicked-back hair even hint at a hint of gray.

After acquiring coronavirus in September 2020, Berlusconi spent 11 days in the hospital, calling it “possibly the most trying ordeal of my life.” 

He was diagnosed with leukemia and a lung infection in April 2023, according to the medical community. He was in intensive care.

After developing a media and real estate empire, Berlusconi entered politics in the early 1990s, where he was welcomed as a breath of fresh air following a time of scandal and corruption.

His new movement, Forza Italia (Go Italy! ), which was named after a football slogan, helped him win his first election in 1994 by positioning himself as a modern Italian success story and receiving support from his TV stations and newspapers.

After a populist campaign promising jobs and economic prosperity, he won a second election in 2001, serving as prime minister for about nine months. He then signed a “Contract with Italians” live on television. 

He was prime minister from 2008 to 2011 and again from 2006 to 2008. He was the longest-serving premier in Italy’s post-war history.

Berlusconi was born in Milan in 1936 to a housewife and a bank employee. He later had five children, all of them were involved in the management of his corporate empire. 

He quickly recognized his abilities as an entertainer as a young man.

He played double bass in a band and cracked jokes in clubs while taking vacations from his law studies at the University of Milan. He was a major Nat King Cole admirer.

He had a brief stint as a cruise ship singer while still a student before beginning a successful career in the expanding construction industry in his 20s, which brought him his first wealth.

With these resources, he created a sizable conglomerate that included stores, movie theaters, publishers, newspapers, and cable television, where he pioneered the use of commercial programming featuring scantily clad women.

His empire also included football, one of Italy’s greatest interests, which was essential to his public character.

Along with funding AC Milan, he frequently gave pep talks on the training grounds and in the locker rooms during the period when the team rose to prominence and won numerous trophies. 

Under Berlusconi’s 31-year ownership, AC Milan won five of its seven European Cup/Champions League victories.

After years of underwhelming performances, he sold the club in 2017 and purchased Monza, then playing in Italy’s third tier, in 2018.

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