Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi helped to shape his country's image for decades. (Photo © Anadolu Agency)

Silvio Berlusconi, Former Italian PM and Media Mogul, Dies at 86

Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s Former Prime Minister and media tycoon, has died aged 86.

Berlusconi died in hospital in Milan’s San Raffaele, after being treated for a lung infection.

He had chronic myelomonocytic leukemia – a rare condition and has had repeated health issues since contracting Covid-19 in 2020.

Long-time ally and League leader Matteo Salvini announced the news at a public event, asking for a minute of silence to pay homage to Berlusconi, according to Anadolu agency.

A state funeral will be held on Wednesday at Milan Cathedral, reports say.

Meloni: ‘Most influential men in Italy’s history”

Italy’s current Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has posted a video tribute to Berlusconi.

Reports say the pair frequently disagreed in political circles, but in her video she remembers the billionaire as “one of the most influential men in Italy’s history”.

She praises his courage and determination, saying he “was a man who has never been fearful of defending his convictions.”.

“His courage and determination were exactly what made him one of the most influential men in Italy’s history.”

“With him we have fought, won and lost many battles. We will achieve the objectives that together we had determined also for him. Farewell Silvio,” she said.

Who was Silvio Berlusconi?

A media mogul-turned-politician, Berlusconi dominated Italy’s political scene for three decades, imposing his revolutionary model of communication and taking on the durable role of kingmaker, despite a long string of judicial troubles.

Born on Sept 29 1936 in Milan to a middle-class family, Berlusconi began his career selling vacuum cleaners, before setting up a construction company.

He went on to become one of Italy’s richest men, making his fortune through his TV channels including Canale 5, Italy’s first commercial TV network.

Berlusconi also gained international recognition as the owner of legendary football club AC Milan before going into politics.

He founded his own party, Forza Italia, in 1993 and remained a powerful political figure for the next two decades – in and out of power.

Berlusconi was prime minister four times – each time it seemed his political career was over, he managed to bounce back successfully brushing off sex scandals and allegations of corruption.

Paolo Maldini: “Thank you for everything President”

During his lifetime, Berlusconi built a vast empire that spanned media, real estate, finance, cinema and sport. According to Forbes, his business assets are worth about €6bn.

Both AC Milan, which he formerly owned, and AC Monza, who he owned until his death, have paid tributes to Berlusconi.

Paolo Maldini, who captained AC Milan for eight years, has posted a tribute on Instagram, writing: “Thank you for everything President, you made all of us Milan fans live a dream that lasted more than 30 years, no one will ever be like you.”

Source: news agencies, BBC, Anodulu