Silvio Berlusconi, the boastful billionaire media mogul who was Italy’s longest-serving premier despite scandals over his sex-fueled parties and allegations of corruption, died, Italian media reported Monday. He was 86.
Italian news agency LaPresse reported Berlusconi’s death after he was hospitalized on Friday for the second time in months for treatment of chronic leukemia.
Berlusconi was hospitalized in Milan on April 5 with a lung infection stemming from the disease, said Dr. Alberto Zangrillo, his personal physician. He also suffered over the years from heart ailments, prostate cancer and was hospitalized for COVID-19 in 2020.
A onetime cruise ship crooner, Berlusconi used his television networks and immense wealth to launch his long political career, inspiring both loyalty and loathing.
To admirers, the three-time premier was a capable and charismatic statesman who sought to elevate Italy on the world stage. To critics, he was a populist who threatened to undermine democracy by wielding political power as a tool to enrich himself and his businesses.