MILAN (Reuters) - Lapo Elkann, the brother of Fiat Chairman John Elkann and an heir to Italy's biggest industrial dynasty, said in an interview published on Friday that he was sexually abused as a teenager while at boarding school.
In a wide-ranging interview with Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, Elkann, 36, said he was thinking of setting up a foundation to help victims of sexual abuse. He did not say who abused him.
"Since I turned 13, I have been through painful things that later created big difficulties in my life. Things that happened to me and other boys. I am talking about physical abuse. Sexual (abuse). It happened to me. I was subject to it," Elkann said.
"Other people who lived through similar stuff have not been able to deal with it. My best friend, who was in college with me for nearly 10 years and went through what I went through, killed himself a year and a half ago," Elkann said.
An aide to Elkann confirmed to Reuters the statements that Elkann made in the interview, saying he would not comment further on the issue.
Elkann, the grandson of late Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli, nearly died of a drug overdose in 2005 after collapsing in the apartment of a transsexual prostitute and left his marketing post at the carmaker which now owns Chrysler.
While his older brother John is known for his shy, reserved attitude, Lapo's flamboyant and unconventional style has made him something of a celebrity in Italy, where he is famous for his dedication to family-owned soccer club Juventus and his stable of luxury sports cars.
In 2007 he founded sunglass company Italia Independent, which debuted on the Milan stock market in June this year. In the interview, he said the only things he was addicted to now were cigarettes.
"I am thinking about (setting up) a foundation. I want to help those who experienced what I experienced," he said.
"You can be a sunny, positive person, but certain things, these kind of things, can leave you permanently scarred inside. But I don't consider myself a victim. The victims are others."
Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; editing by Tom Pfeiffer