MILAN, Italy – Gianni Versace's niece Allegra Beck (search) turned 18 on Wednesday and took possession of the inheritance from her late uncle — half the fashion house.
The 50 percent stake in the company had been held in trust since Versace was gunned down at his Miami Beach mansion in 1997, when Allegra was 11. She is the daughter of Versace's sister Donatella, the company's designer, and former model Paul Beck.
While the fashion house has remained under family control, it is laden with debt. Before his death, Gianni Versace (search) had planned to list the company on the stock market, but that was placed on hold until Allegra's 18th birthday.
Allegra and her brother Daniel often attended their uncle's fashion shows, and he reportedly willed his art collection, including works by Picasso (search), to Daniel, Donatella's younger child. But after Gianni Versace's death, the children were kept from the public spotlight.
Though Allegra didn't appear at the Versace menswear collection Sunday night or at the party afterward at the family's palazzo, she was at an early birthday party this month at a Milan nightclub.
Allegra has told friends she wants to study acting in New York. Unlike the children of families such as Missoni, Ferragamo and Biagiotti, she has so far shown no interest in following the family's fashion footsteps.
Interim chief executive Daniele Ballestrazzi was quoted Wednesday in Finanza & Mercati as saying Allegra has decided to become "a full-fledged shareholder."
A board meeting scheduled for Monday may shed light on future decisions.
Designer Giorgio Armani (search), known for his rivalry with the flamboyant Gianni Versace, said he didn't know Allegra personally but heard she was "mature and serious."
"I hope she can bring the house back to the splendor of the years when her uncle was around," he told The Associated Press.