(ROME) — Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has died in Milan at 86, Italian media reported.
The three-time premier and former leader of the Forza Italia party had suffered with a series of medical ailments over the past several years.
The billionaire media tycoon — worth approximately $7 billion — has had a pacemaker since he was 70-years-old but, more recently, underwent heart surgery in 2016 to replace an aortic valve and has also survived a bout with prostate cancer.
“The end of an era,” Guido Crosetto, Italy’s defense minister, said in Italian. “I loved him very much. Goodbye Silvio.”
His death was first reported Monday by ANSA, the Italian newswire. Berlusconi’s brother, Paolo, along with his children, arrived at the hospital within moments of his death on Monday, ANSA reported.
Berlusconi sat until his death in the upper house of the Italian parliament, the Senate, but does not have a government role in Georgia Meloni’s conservative coalition that currently governs the country.
Berlusconi was born in Milan in 1936 and entered into the media world in the early 1970s before turning to politics in the 90s. He was first elected to the Chamber of Deputies and appointed as prime minister of Italy in the 1994 general election his party, Forza Italia, gained a relative majority only three months after the party was launched.
Berlusconi was no stranger to legal troubles during his career and a court only recently acquitted him in February regarding allegations of paying off witnesses to lie in an underage prostitution case that had been under litigation for more than a decade.
Berlusconi is survived by his 33-year-old partner, Marta Fascina — a member of the Chamber of Deputies representing Forza Italia since 2018 — as well as his five children from previous relationships.
Matteo Salvini, deputy prime minister, called on Monday for a moment of silence for his former colleague. On Twitter, he praised Berlusconi’s generosity and respect.
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