Agnelli was born in New York to Italian parents (his maternal grandmother was American). After studying at Atlantic College, he read modern literature and oriental philosophy at Princeton University, where he was given the nickname Crazy Eddie for his wild behaviour.
After leaving Princeton he travelled in India, pursuing his interest in oriental religion and mysticism, and Iran, where he met Ayatollah Khamenei and was reported to have converted to Islam. According to La Repubblica Agnelli's preoccupations became increasingly erratic, "Mysticism, Franciscanism, drugs, Buddhism, lectures against Capital, praise of the poor, criticism of the behaviour of Fiat.
As an adult Agnelli claimed to be the heir apparent to the Fiat empire, but his father, who had already been unhappy with Edoardo's timidity when he was a child, ensured that he would not inherit it. The only official position which the younger Agnelli held in the family businesses was as a director of Juventus football club, in which capacity he was present at the Heysel disaster.
In November 2000, 46 year old Agnelli's body was found, near Turin, on a river bed beneath a motorway viaduct, on which his car was found too. The viaduct is known as the bridge of suicides. The death was considered by Italian investigators to have been suicide.
A 2001 Iranian documentary film claimed that Agnelli was the victim of a Zionist plot to prevent a Muslim becoming head of Fiat, in spite of the fact that he was not an heir to Fiat. In the Italian press the documentary was commentated as "building up an Urban Legend by Iranian authorities". In 2003 it was circulated by FARS, a press agency linked to Iran's revolutionary guard. According to Corriere della Sera, the story is also enshrined at the Museum of Martyrs of Islam at Imam Sadiq University, Iran, which contains a portrait-shrine dedicated to Agnelli.
- Johnston, Bruce (19 June 2001). "Fiat chief's son dies in viaduct plunge". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- Farnham, Alan (10 September 1990). "THE CHILDREN OF THE RICH & FAMOUS". CNN. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- "The curse of inheritance: Do wealthy dynasties always make for happy heirs?". Belfast Telegraph. 19 July 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- Aspesi, Natalia (16 November 2000). "Edoardo Agnelli, una vita fragile". La Repubblica (Rome). Retrieved 2014-07-23.
- "Fiat family's search for an heir.". Sunday Business. 26 November 2000. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- Darby, Paul; Johnes, Martin; Mello, Gavin (2005). Soccer and Disaster. Routledge. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-7146-5352-5.
- "TYCOON'S SON PLEADS". Post-Gazette. 23 September 1990. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- "Death of a family firm?". The Sunday Business Post. 3 December 2000. Retrieved 2009-03-01.
- August, Melissa; Bower, Amanda; Cooper, Matthew; Frank, Steven; Keliher, MacAbe; Minhua, Ling; Martens, Ellin; Orecklin, Michele; Rawe, Julie; Song, Sora; Tyrangiel, Josh (27 November 2000). "Milestones". Time. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- "Edoardo Agnelli was a Shiite Martyr". Corriere della Sera. 11 November 2005. Retrieved 2009-03-01.