Inside the Tragic Murder of Fashion Icon Gianni Versace

We review what happened 25 years ago to the fashion designer.

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The tragic murder of Gianni Versace in July 1997 continues to reverberate across pop culture. Most recently, a season of American Crime Story devoted to Versace’s death ensured that he would not be forgotten anytime soon.

So what exactly happened 25 years ago — and why was it such a big deal then and now?

The Life of Gianni Versace

Gianni Versace was born in December 1946 in Reggio Calabria, Italy.

He was particularly intrigued by Ancient Greek history, which he studied along with Latin at Liceo Classico Tommaso Campanella. He also developed an interest in architecture.

Versace apprenticed for his mother’s sewing company when he was young. In his mid-20s, he moved to Milan to pursue a career in fashion design.

What turned out to be a career became an empire.

Versace relocated to Miami Beach’s South Beach after taking a trip there in 1991.

Versace was in a relationship with Antonio D’Amico for 15 years before “spree killer” Andrew Cunanan killed him. (Someone who kills multiple people in a short period is considered a spree killer, whereas more time sometimes elapses between a serial killer’s murders.)

Gianni Versace’s Unrivaled Career

Italian fashion designers Gianni Versace (1946-1997) and Donatella Versace attend the Pavarotti and Friends for War Child benefit concert at Parco Novi Sad in Modena, Italy on 8th June 1996. (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

Versace opened his first boutique in Milan, Italy, in 1978, according to Biography.com. Twenty years later, he had more than 130 high-end stores to his name.

Thanks in part to the attention that celebrities such as Madonna and Elton John gave him, Versace became one of the biggest fashion designers of all time, per Biography.com.

Versace was worth $807 million at the time that Cunanan murdered him, according to The New York Times.

He showed off his Atelier Versace Fall 1997 Couture collection with model Naomi Campbell in Paris shortly before his death.

The Death of Gianni Versace

Cunanan killed Versace on the steps of the latter’s Miami Beach mansion on July 15, 1997. The gunman shot the designer twice in the head and then bolted, according to History.com.

The family butler found the fashion icon laying in a pool of blood on the steps of the mansion.

Cunanan didn’t have any criminal record before he started killing people. After a series of violent incidents, police began trailing him — but didn’t catch up quickly enough to prevent Versace’s murder.

Cunanan reportedly killed himself without leaving a suicide note.

Versace left D’Amico with $30,000 a month for the remainder of his life in his will. D’Amico, however, feuded with the designer’s family and ended up with only a portion of what was promised to him.

Ryan Murphy retold the death of Gianni Versace in American Crime Story, with Edgar Ramirez portraying him. The show was the follow-up to Murphy’s fictional crime series, The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

The show also featured Penelope Cruz and singer Ricky Martin.

Read More: Mysterious Deaths of Brittany Murphy and Her Husband Haunt Hollywood Still

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