Lapo Eduard Elkann was born in New York to heiress Margherita Agnelli de Pahlen and American-born French-Italian intellectual Alain Elkann. His grandfather was Gianni Agnelli, the Italian industrialist and principal of the Agnelli clan, whose history, prominence and public tragedies are in Italy something akin to those of the Kennedys in the United States. Grandpa built Fiat and other enterprises into a conglomerate that the family still controls, and it generates close to 5 percent of Italy’s GDP. Lapo, John and their sister, Ginevra, are majority shareholders in Exor.
Elaknn grew up in London, Brazil and France and did mandatory military service in Italy’s elite Alpini. By age 23, he was working as Henry Kissinger’s personal assistant. He stepped into the family business as a marketing associate at Ferrari and Maserati, and at 26, he became Fiat’s director of brand promotion.