Edoardo Agnelli (9 June 1954 – 15 November 2000) was the eldest son of Marella Agnelli (born Donna Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto) and Gianni Agnelli, the industrialist patriarch of Fiat. His body was found dead under mysterious circumstances under a bridge on the outskirts of Turin.
Agnelli was born in New York City to Italian parents (his maternal grandmother was American). After studying at Atlantic College, he read modern literature and oriental philosophy at Princeton University.
After leaving Princeton he travelled in India, pursuing his interest in oriental religion and mysticism, and Iran. According to La Repubblica Agnelli's preoccupations became increasingly erratic, "Mysticism, Franciscanism, Buddhism, lectures against Capital, praise of the poor, criticism of the behaviour of Fiat. He was against materialism which made him move in a different direction, according to The Guardian.
As an adult Agnelli claimed to be the heir apparent to the Fiat empire, but his father, who had already been unhappy with Edoardo's timidity when he was a child, ensured that he would not inherit it. The only official position which the younger Agnelli held in the family businesses was as a director of Juventus football club, in which capacity he was present at the Heysel disaster.
In 1990 Agnelli was charged in Kenya with possession of 7 ounces of heroin, to which he pleaded innocent. The charges were later dropped.
Converting to Islam
Edoardo Agnelli reportedly converted to Islam in an islamic center in New York City where he was named "Hisham Aziz". Then he met Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran and was reported to have converted to Shia Islam. According to Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri Abyaneh, Agnelli declared faith to Fakhroddein Hejazi and became a Shia Muslim and was named "Mahdi".
In November 2000, 46-year-old Agnelli's body was found, near Turin, on a river bed beneath a motorway viaduct, on which his car was found too. The viaduct is known as the bridge of suicides. The death was suspected by investigators to have been a suicide. According to Marco Bava, a financial analyst and friend of Edoardo Agnelli, Agnelli would never have committed suicide and he would leave a note to justify his action, if he suicided. Giuseppe Puppo, a journalist, has addressed some obscure points regarding the death of Angelli in his book "Eighty meters of mystery" where he has conducted an investigation into Angelli's death using interviews and unpublished testimonies. Giuseppe Puppo regards some of the points as inconsistencies and oddities: the absence of the bodyguards of Edoardo Agnelli; the interval of two hours between leaving home and arriving on the Fossano viaduct; the cameras of the Agnelli, whose images have never been seen; the telephone traffic on the two phones; the total absence of witnesses along a road section which recorded at least eight cars per minute passage, at that time and the lack of fingerprints on the car; the hurried burial without autopsy. The fact that an autopsy was never done on his body and the incident was declared "suicide" in great haste also adds fuel to the controversy. Dr. Marco Bava conducted an independent investigation of the entire incident and wrote a letter dated August 2001 to the highest legal authority highlighting numerous flaws of the "suicide" theory. His efforts at presenting the other view of the incident went without fruit, probably because of the great financial and political influence, the Agnelli family has over the Italian establishment.
A 2001 Iranian documentary film claimed that Agnelli was the victim of a Zionist plot to prevent a Muslim becoming head of Fiat. Corriere della Sera wrote that, after Agnelli's death, "fundamentalists in Iran decided to construct the myth", and an Iranian television crew came to Italy to make a documentary the following year. In 2003, the documentary was circulated by FARS. According to Corriere della Sera, the story is also enshrined at the Museum of Martyrs of Islam at Imam Sadiq University, Iran, which contains a portrait-shrine dedicated to Agnelli.