Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media mogul and former Italian prime minister who dominated the country’s politics for decades, has died at the age of 86, his press office confirmed on Monday.
Berlusconi had been hospitalized in Milan since Friday with a lung infection, less than a month after a previous lengthy stay there for chronic leukemia.
He served as Italy’s prime minister for a total of nine years over three terms, making him the longest-serving leader since fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. He founded Italy’s largest media company, Mediaset, and led the center-right Forza Italia party.
He was also known for his flamboyant personality, lavish lifestyle and numerous scandals involving corruption, tax evasion and sex parties. He was convicted of tax fraud in 2012 and banned from holding public office until 2019.
He remained an influential figure in Italian politics until his death, supporting the current national unity government led by Mario Draghi.
His death has sparked reactions from across the political spectrum, with tributes and condolences pouring in from his allies and rivals alike.