Watch: The Truth Behind Our Obsession With True Crime Stories
Three years after Ryan Murphy's American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace debuted, the Versace mansion is once again making headlines.
On July 14, Miami Beach police arrived at The Villa Casa Casuarina Hotel after receiving a call from housekeeping that they had discovered two deceased males, the news coming nearly 24 years to the day that Gianni Versace was murdered there. An incident report obtained by E! News revealed it was an apparent double suicide, with police noting both men suffered gunshot wounds to the head.
Two decades earlier, at the same spot, Versace fell victim to one of the world's most nightmarish crime—made all the more terrifying because at the time it felt hopelessly random. Of course, the targeting of the Italian fashion designer wasn't random to his deranged killer, 27-year-old Andrew Cunanan, but for such a major celebrity to fall prey to a serial killer was unfathomable at the time.
Though the list of people who've become posthumously famous because they were the victim of a grotesque crime is long, and will continue to grow, the list of people who were already famous when they were killed is relatively short. But those deaths are considered the most "shocking" because, despite how preposterous it sounds… isn't all that wealth and fame supposed to be able to shield a person from being murdered in her house, stabbed to death in a carport, fatally shot in a drive-by, or, like Versace, gunned down outside his fabulous home in Miami Beach, becoming Cunanan's fifth known victim in a three-month span in 1997?
Michel Arnaud/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
In 1997, Gianni Versace was—and his surname remains—one of the most famous brands in the fashion universe.
With a clientele that included Princess Diana and a social circle that boasted Madonna, Elton John and Naomi Campbell, he was a member of the celebrity world that he dressed (perhaps never so memorably as when Elizabeth Hurley donned his safety pin dress in 1994, a moment that has repeatedly landed atop lists of the best red carpet moments ever) and his jet-setting ways were a testament to his financial success and his love of life.
A boy who loved to play but not a playboy, the 50-year-old designer had been with his partner, Antonio D'Amico, for 15 years. They were fixtures on the international party circuit together.
Versace had just shown a collection in Paris days earlier when, on July 15, 1997, upon returning to his mansion on Ocean Drive after a morning walk to buy an Italian newspaper at his favorite café, he was shot to death outside his front gate.
D'Amico heard the shots and ran outside. "My heart just stopped to beat," he told Dateline in 2017, his first time speaking out about the murder. "So I ran out and then I saw Gianni laying down on the stairs in blood."
Trending Stories1The Agreement Shailene Woodley & Aaron Rodgers Made After His Proposal2Blake Lively Says Paparazzi Stalked Her Kids in "Frightening" Incident3Britney Spears Slams People Who "Never Showed Up" Amid ConservatorshipChris Bott / Splash News
Witnesses would tell police they saw a man darting down the street and turning into an alley, after which the unidentified man—described as a white male in his 20s, who walked right up to Versace and shot him point blank in the head—was caught on hotel security footage. Police found clothing matching the description—gray T-shirt, black shorts, white hat—in a nearby garage.
Early speculation was that the execution-style killing could've been a professional hit, or otherwise mob-related.