The Assassination of Gianni Versace: The real story behind the BBC drama and serial killer Andrew Cunanan


Series two of American Crime Story is about the fashion mogul’s murder

Last week series two of American Crime Story began on BBC Two. The highly-anticipated criminal drama focuses on the murder of famous Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace.

The nine-part series delves into the fashion mogul’s death, as well as the life of his murderer, serial killer Andrew Cunanan.

It is a follow-up series to the critically acclaimed American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace is inspired by a non-fiction book by Maureen Orth, a Vanity Fair journalist who reported on the case at the time.

Gianni’s family has challenged the book’s account calling it a “work of fiction”, and the designer’s former lover Antonio D’Amico (played by Ricky Martin in the series) told Radio Times that the series featured an “inaccurate portrayal” of events.

The second episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace airs Wednesday, March 7 at 9pm on BBC Two.

Gianni Versace was shot and killed outside his Miami Beach mansion on July, 15 1997. He was 50-years-old.

The fashion mogul was returning to his residence, after taking a morning walk on Ocean Drive, where he bought some magazines at a nearby cafe.

The designer was shot in the back of the head outside his mansion, while he was opening the gate. There were pools of blood on the pavement.

Gianni Versace was pronounced dead at 9:21 a.m at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami.

He was murdered by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who rather chillingly used the same gun to commit suicide eight days later.

Andrew was said to be obsessed with the fashion designer, often bragging about his close “friendship” with Gianni to other people.

The police believed that the pair had previously met at a club in San Francisco – due to several eye witness accounts. However, their exact relationship – and if they had even met at all – is still widely disputed. Gianni’s family has always denied that the two had ever met.

Around the time of his death Vanity Fair reporter Maureen Orth published an article claiming that Andrew and Gianni had met in San Francisco where Gianni had been designing costumes for an opera show.

The police said they did not know why Versace was killed.

“I don’t know that we are ever going to know the answers,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto.

The fashion mogul was cremated, and his ashes were returned to his estate near Cernobbio, Italy, and buried in the family vault.

His funeral service was held at Milan Cathedral, and was attended by more than 2,000 people, including Sir Elton John and Diana, Princess of Wales – who was killed in a car accident the following month.

Andrew was born in National City, California,he was the youngest of four children. As a child he attended The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California, a private school where most of his peers came from wealthier families than his.

Andrew was said to be a clever student and had a genius IQ of 147, making him tremendously bright for his age.

He often made up stories about his background and his family’s wealth in order to fit in at school. Years later this behavior led experts to believe that he showed early signs of antisocial personality disorder (previously referred to as psychopathy).

When Andrew was 19 his mother found out that he was gay, and not long after he moved to San Francisco.

In 1987, he enrolled in the University of California San Diego and majored in American History. Andrew became a regular visitor to the Castro district, a gay neighbourhood.

He also started befriending wealthy older men, one of them being Norman Blachford who he met in the early 90s.

In her book, Maureen describes Norman as “reserved, soft-spoken, extremely conservative, and very, very rich.”

Norman funded Andrew’s lifestyle, giving him a monthly allowance, frequent holidays to New York and the South of France and a Mercedes 500SL.

The relationship between the pair was shrouded in mystery, with many believing it was sexual, but the truth never came to light.

When his relationship with Norman ended in 1996, Andrew’s high-flying lifestyle began to disintegrate. It was after this period that Andrew took the life of his first victim, Jeffrey Trail. . .

Andrew killed at least five people during a three-month period in 1997. As well as Gianni, Chicago tycoon Lee Miglin was also one of his victims.

His killing spree started in San Diego, where he murdered former US naval officer Jeffrey Trail.

Following an argument, Andrew beat him to death with a claw hammer, and left his body rolled inside a rug in a wardrobe, in the loft-apartment of David Madson – his next victim.

David – an architect – had once been Andrew’s friend. His body was found on the east shore of Rush Lake near Rush City, Minnesota, on May 3, 1997, there were gunshot wounds to his head and back.

Next he drove to Chicago, where he killed 72-year-old businessman Lee Miglin. The prominent real estate developer was bound with duct tape, stabbed more than 20 times with a screwdriver, and had his throat sawn open with a hacksaw.

Following this third, and arguably the most gruesome murder, the FBI added Andrew to its Ten Most Wanted list.

Andrew took Lee’s car and made the journey to Pennsville, New Jersey where he killed 45-year-old caretaker William Reese and stole his red pick up truck.

While the police began a manhunt, largely focusing on finding the truck, Andrew moved to Miami, Florida where he met his fifth and final victim Gianni Versace.

After murdering the Italian fashion designer, he was pursued by a witness but managed to escape from the scene.

William’s stolen truck, as well as Andrew’s clothes, an alternative passport, and newspaper clippings of his murders were found in a nearby parking garage by police.

Eight days after killing Gianni, Andrew shot himself in the head using the same gun he’d used to kill David, William and Gianni.


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