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Flavio Briatore: from F1 to Monaco nightspots, the makings of a success story

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Flavio Briatore has lived in Monaco for over ten years / All rights reserved

From ready-to-wear to Formula 1, the Italian businessman and Monegasque resident has become a key figure in Monaco’s nightlife and the international jet-set. We look back at the many lives of this visionary, iconoclastic and seemingly indestructible entrepreneur.

Tomorrow I’ll be back at it.” Posted on social media at the end of March, this message could be Flavio Briatore’s catchphrase. The Italian businessman, who had surgery for a benign heart tumour a few days earlier, was keen to reassure his millions of subscribers: at 74 years old – since April 12 – the Monegasque resident has a strong heart and intends to let it be known.

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Hanging up his gloves is out of the question for the successful entrepreneur. At the head of a multitude of thriving companies, Flavio Briatore symbolises the European self-made man – which probably explains why the business leader has again been chosen to play the “boss” in the Italian version of the reality show The Apprentice.

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Flavio Briatore has had many lives. Starting out with almost nothing, he now rubs shoulders with the greats and is an established name in Monaco life. Born in 1950 in the little town of Verzuolo, in the Piedmont region of Italy, Flavio Briatore is the son of a family of schoolteachers.

I was born poor,” he says, starting out as a ski instructor, before running a restaurant and then joining the Milan Stock Exchange. He says it was while strolling along the quays in Monaco as a young man that his entrepreneurial spirit was born, as he looked at the yachts lined up below the Rock.

Briatore was taken on by Benetton in the early 1980s, and helped the Italian ready-to-wear brand break through in America. Successfully so as we know, as Benetton became a world-famous brand in just a few years.

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A legend in F1 circles

It was with Luciano Benetton that the businessman attended his first Formula 1 Grand Prix, in Australia in 1988. Briatore was subsequently appointed Commercial Director and then Director of the Benetton Formula team, becoming a central figure in the paddocks.

It was under his leadership and thanks to his revolutionary methods at the time, that the Benetton team, led by Michael Schumacher, won its first world drivers’ title in 1994, followed by a second the following year.

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A businessman to the core, Briatore bought the French Ligier team, forming closer ties with Renault. In 1996, he took the Scuderia Minardi under his wing. Briatore moved to Renault in the early 2000s and continued to build his legendary status, helping Fernando Alonso to his first and last world titles in 2005 and 2006.

After more than a decade away from the track, following a decision by the FIA (International Automobile Federation) that was finally overturned by the French courts, Briatore made his return to the paddocks in the early 2020s.

In 2022, saying that he felt like he’d never left” the world of motor racing, he was appointed F1 ambassador, in charge of developing business partnerships. A return to favour for the F1 fan, who seems to have found a role that is tailor-made for his exceptional talents as a salesman.

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His job description: “to look after the sponsors, (…) to work on developing Grands Prix in new countries and the entertainment alongside the races”, he sums up. In short, “Everything I know how to do (…) But you should always do what you’re good at, right?” he told the Monegasque press with a hint of mischief.

Happy and honoured to be able to continue to help with the commercial development of F1,” a sport he “loves deeply”, Flavio Briatore takes his new ambassadorial role seriously.

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Flavio Briatore with Prince Albert II – Photo via Flavio Briatore on Instagram

When he is not accompanying Formula 1 Group CEO Stefano Domenicali on his travels around the world, he can be seen alongside Prince Albert II, as he was at the Italian Grand Prix in 2022.

Always in the front row, with the eye and insights people come from all over to consult. Formula 1 has changed in recent years, the former Renault F1 Team boss told Sport Bild recently: “the races are more exciting thanks to the new cars. But the environment is different too. All the entertainment for sponsors and special guests is good, but I want to use my experience to raise the bar even higher.”

The Monaco nightspot king

Raising the bar is something he knows all about. Far from settling for a well-deserved retirement, or even with his new role as a luxury F1 sales rep, Flavio Briatore is undoubtedly one of the most active ‘pensioners’ in the Monegasque ecosystem. One might even say hyperactive, judging by the number of businesses he is running at the same time. On the track by day; on the dance floor by night. The leitmotif: celebration, luxury, excellence.

Launched in 1997 in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, the Billionaire nightclub concept was an immediate success – yet again. Incredibly select and reserved for a hand-picked clientele, the concept of “entertainment dining” combines a gourmet dinner and top-flight entertainment.

The unusual formula appealed to the jet-set, to the point that Flavio Briatore’s cabaret nights were quickly exported to Dubai, Doha, Riyadh – where Billionaire was elected “Best Restaurant in Saudi Arabia” in 2022. Or Saint-Moritz, Switzerland, where a Billionaire event is scheduled in December, in the prestigious setting of the Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski.

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The Billionaire adventure began in Porto Cervo, Sardinia in 1998 at a club frequented by the international jet-set – © Stéphane Valeri via Facebook 

Briatore has partnered with the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) to bring his Billionaire brand to the Principality. Another photo opportunity with Prince Albert II and many celebrities who were won over by the dinner-show concept imagined by Monaco’s jack-of-all-trades.

Billionaire is also the name of the luxury ready-to-wear line that the Italian-born serial entrepreneur launched in 2005 in partnership with Italian couturier Angelo Galasso – with the same high standards that underpin his other projects: ultra-precious materials, carefully cut, for a resolutely chic style with a commitment to luxury.

Like Flavio Briatore himself, who can often be seen wearing Billionaire Couture pieces. Eclectic, uninhibited and sporty at heart, the businessman even owned the English football club Queens Park Rangers at one point, before selling it in 2011.

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Flavio Briatore – Photo via Facebook

But it is in restaurants and clubs that this eternal night owl seems to thrive the most – after all, wasn’t his first business a restaurant?

The Briatore group, now renamed Majestas, has many brands in the sector. Twiga is one, another club-restaurant concept that is proving a big hit all over the world: in Monte Carlo, of course, where party people can dance to the famous DJ Bob Sinclar, but also in Miami, Dubai, Doha, London and, most recently, in the Italian town of Ventimiglia.

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Twiga Monte-Carlo – Photo via Facebook /Twiga Monte Carlo

Italian by birth, Flavio Briatore also launched his own chain of pizzerias, Crazy Pizza. Located in London, Porto Cevo, Monaco and Rome, the businessman’s restaurants are all about fresh, “homemade” products: the tomato sauce is prepared on site, the mozzarella too, and the pizzaiolos spin the dough – without yeast, for lightness – in front of the delighted customers.

An entrepreneur to the core

The Majestas group also runs Cova and Cipriani under licence. The former, owned by the world leader in luxury LVMH, specialises in Italian pastries, or pasticceria. A veritable Milanese institution, synonymous with tradition and good taste, of which Briatore manages two premises within the Principality. According to him, they have become “an essential address and a benchmark” for Monegasque gourmets.

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Flavio Briatore opened a second Cova restaurant in the Principality, on the ground floor of the Palais de la Plage – Photo Pasticceria Cova

The Cipriani restaurant, also located in the heart of Monte-Carlo, has put itself on the map for those who are looking for chic dinners in the Principality.

Thanks to all of its establishments in six countries and the dedication of over 1,100 employees, the Majestas group, of which Briatore holds half of the shares, generated turnover of 80 million euros in 2022, establishing itself as an undisputed leader in the luxury restaurant, hotel and events industry.

It’s easy to see why Flavio Briatore’s list of successful projects is so impressive: it’s because he’s an entrepreneur to the core.

Often held up as an example to young people who also want to set out on the adventure, the Monegasque resident is not stingy with advice – he even published a book in 2017, entitled Sulla ricchezza, “On wealth”.

Reminding us that he is a prime example of a person who is born poor but who built his wealth by working,” the Italian businessman willingly shares the recipe for his success: “you have to have a clear idea and know the market well,” he told Wall Street Italia, then “you need to have a very strict roadmap and follow it from point A to point Z. (…) All our brands are born with the same philosophy, which is, first, a strong and loyal team. That is the key to success. As far as catering is concerned, the secret lies in the service. If the service is excellent, the customer will be satisfied. (…) Secondly, we must always seek to improve and renew ourselves and not take success for granted.”

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The Majestas Group is already present in 20 countries around the world – © Flavio Briatore via Instagram

Putting other first

This doesn’t stop Briatore from enjoying his success. With 1.4 million followers, his Instagram account bears witness to the businessman’s luxurious lifestyle, with private jets, big cars and one paradisiac destination after the other – often in the company of his son, Nathan Falco, from his relationship with model Elisabetta Gregoraci.

With an estimated fortune of 200 million dollars, Flavio Briatore is also the proud owner of a fabulous villa in Monte Carlo, filled with works of art and luxurious furniture.

Wealth that, in addition to his famous female conquests, creates jealousy and attracts criticism… which he quickly dismisses: “people haven’t understood that it is businesses and investments that create wealth. I’ve never seen a poor person create jobs, but they take it out on the wealthy,” he told mediawebchannel.it.

Has success made Flavio Briatore lose his sense of reality? On the contrary, if we believe his various commitments and stances in favour of the underprivileged or local communities. Did his nightclub patrons have one too many? Flavio Briatore is committed, with the Monegasque BeSafe charity, to taking drunk revellers home, free of charge.

Flavio Briatore with Be Safe – © Frederic Nebinger

Having a good time on his yacht in the Mediterranean? Seeing a ship adrift, with dozens of migrants in distress on board, our man changes course to come to their rescue.

His success as a businessman lies in this ‘taste for others’ or in the affection he has for his children: “the time I spend with my son is my greatest luxury. No yacht, item or experience is as valuable,” the doting dad recently declared. He sums up his philosophy: “Real wealth is about creating it around you and seeing many people around you becoming rich thanks to you.”