Gianni Versace’s brutal murder is at the center of ‘American Crime Story’ season 2. Before the Jan. 17 premiere, get up to speed on the famous fashion designer.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. ET on FX. The show, the latest from TV king Ryan Murphy, 52, focuses on the shocking 1997 murder of the fashion designer. Actor Edgar Ramirez, 40, is playing Gianni Versace (see below) in the anthology series. The Assassination of Gianni Versace also stars Darren Criss, 30, Penelope Cruz, 43, Ricky Martin, 46, Dascha Polanco, 35, and Will Chase, 47. Here’s what you need to know about Gianni before the show premieres.
1. Gianni Versace was shot and killed in front of his Miami villa on July 15, 1997. The fashion designer was gunned down at the age of 50 by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, played by Darren in the series, on the steps of his lavish Miami villa. Gianni had just returned from buying magazines at a local cafe. Gianni was shot twice in the head and left to die. He was pronounced dead at nearby hospital. At the time, Gianni’s killer was on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted fugitive list and had already killed four other men in Minnesota, Illinois, and New Jersey.
2. Gianni founded Versace and was friends with many famous celebs. Gianni grew up in Italy and opened his first boutique in Milan in 1978. The company was founded that same year in Milan. Gianni Versace SpA is one of the leading international fashion design houses. The company designs everything from haute couture to jewelry to home furnishings. In addition to his own fashion line, Gianni designed costumes for theatre, TV shows, and films. He was friends with Princess Diana, Eric Clapton, 72, Madonna, 59, Elton John, 70, and Cher, 71. After Gianni’s death, his sister Donatella, played by Penelope in the show, became the new head of design. His brother Santo, now 73, became the new CEO of the family’s company.
3. Gianni was openly gay and in a loving relationship with Antonio D’Amico. Gianni met the model, played by Ricky, in 1982. Gianni came out as gay in the 1980s. “It was the right moment for him to come out in public, but everyone involved in our world knew. He never tried to hide who he was,” Antonio told The Guardian. At the time of his death, Gianni and Antonio, now 58, lived together.
4. He battled cancer before his death. Gianni was diagnosed with cancer of the ear just two years before his death and went through treatment. Donatella, now 62, told New York Magazine that “Gianni was sure he was going to die.” However, Gianni was cured six months before he was murdered. “We celebrated; we drink champagne and everything. Six months later, he was killed,” Donatella said.
5. The author of Vulgar Favors claims Gianni was allegedly HIV-positive. Maureen says she learned of Gianni’s alleged medical condition from Miami detective Paul Scrimshaw. The detective claimed in Maureen’s book that he was “able to find out from autopsy results that he [Gianni] had tested positive for HIV.” The Versace family has repeatedly denied Paul’s claim.
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