Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi dead at 86

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi died following complications related to leukemia on Monday. He was 86 years old. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi died following complications related to leukemia on Monday. He was 86 years old. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 12 (UPI) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a once flamboyant billionaire media mogul who became a maverick of conservative politics for three decades, died Monday after a long battle with leukemia and other health problems. He was 86.

Berlusconi died at San Raffaele hospital in Milan, where the leader of Forza Italia was admitted on Friday after he spent six weeks at the facility earlier this year to treat a lung infection exacerbated by his cancer, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.


Berlusconi is survived by five children, who were at his side during his final moments.

In April, Berlusconi was placed in intensive care after being discharged from the same hospital a week before.

Only in recent months did Berlusconi begin to recede from public life after wielding significant sway over Italian politics since the early 1990s.


Berlusconi was often referred to as "Il Cavaliere" -- or the knight -- given his deep political influence and his role in shaping government policy during a 30-year career in public service that was marred by a series of scandals stemming from allegations of corruption and financial crimes.

He served as prime minister of Italy three separate times between 1994 and 2011 and at the time of his death was still holding a seat in Italy's parliament, with members of the Forza Italia party remaining loyal to their ailing leader as he convalesced.

Berlusconi was born in Milan in 1936, and began his career in real estate and property management before establishing Mediaset in the late 1970s, which grew to become Italy's largest broadcast network.

Berlusconi had never held public office before becoming prime minister in 1994, however, his government collapsed less than a year into his first term due to bitter infighting among the ruling coalition.

Berlusconi was next defeated in the 1996 general election, and wouldn't reemerge for his second term until 2001, serving five years as leader of the center-right coalition.

He was elected again in 2008 but resigned three years into his term as the country struggled to climb out of debt.


Between 1986 and 2017 Berlusconi also owned the AC Milan football club, which saw success under his tenure.

Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud in 2012 and sentenced to four years in prison, but due to age and other factors he was never incarcerated. Instead, he was forced to serve a year of community service at a retirement home and was banned from public office for several years.

The ban was lifted by 2018, opening the door for Berlusconi's return to politics, however, Forza Italia failed to gain 40% of the vote that year.

Then in 2019, Berlusconi won a seat in the European parliament before he was elected to the Italian senate in September 2022 as Forza Italia joined forces with the ruling coalition led by the Brothers of Italy.

Berlusconi had surgery to replace a damaged aortic valve in 2016 and has since been hospitalized for health conditions arising from COVID-19 infection in 2020 and 2021.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, from which he also recovered.

Notable Deaths of 2023

Lee Sun-kyun
Lee Sun-kyun arrives at a photocall for "Parasite" during the Cannes International Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 22, 2019. The South Korean actor died at the age of 48 on December 27. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines