Tod's threatens to withdraw from Colosseum restoration project

By Giulia Cambieri

“There was once a dream that was Rome and I fear that it will not survive the winter,” says Marcus Aurelius before dying in Ridley Scott’s film Gladiator. This is probably exactly how Diego Della Valle, chairman of family business Tod’s, is feeling today.

The Italian billionaire, who heads the Marche-based luxury shoemaker, has threatened to pull his €25 million offer to fund the restoration of the Colosseum, because Italy’s Guarantor Authority for Competition and Market accused him of breaching the country’s competition laws.

Last year, Della Valle agreed to pay for most of the costs necessary to restore the 1,932-year-old Roman amphitheatre, which needs unexpected repairs following a series of incidents, including pieces of the monument falling to the ground during December.

Work at the monument was supposed to begin in March and last for at least three years.

However, it's now looking increasingly likely that the restoration will be delayed, as Tod’s, which owns brands like Hogan and Roger Vivier, has been accused of not giving other potential funders enough time to make a better offer.

The deal is currently being reviewed by three separate institutions - the antitrust authority and two judiciary courts.

In the past, the company rejected accusations that it was planning to exploit the sponsorship for commercial purposes.

Tod’s traces its roots back to the late 1920s when Filippo Della Valle first started a shoemaking business. Today, the Della Valle family controls 56.7% of the company and many family members are involved in its management. Diego and his brother, Andrea, serve as the group’s joint chief executives and Diego’s eldest son, Emanuele, works as creative director.

In 2010, the family business, which was included in CampdenFB’s Top 50 Global Challengers, reported revenues of €806 million.