The Story of Gianni Versace’s Last Walk

gianni versace
Credit: Carlo Raso/Flickr

In the morning on July 15, Gianni Versace left his lavish Miami Beach mansion for his regular beach walk. He was doing it every morning. When he was done and walked up the stairs to the front door, he was suddenly shot several times in the back.

This was the end of Gianni Versace’s journey – the designer who dressed a number of celebrities – from Princess Diana to Elizabeth Taylor and Sir Elton John. His dresses remain in history with their style and people still remember them. On 15th July, 24 years have passed since the great designer’s death, which is still shrouded in mystery.

During these 24 years, Versace’s death has been the subject of several books, movies, and movie series.

One was the main mystery surrounding Versace’s death – why was he killed? The murderer was the young Andrew Cunanan. The designer was his fourth victim. After killing him, Cunanan went into hiding for eight days. Finally, he shot himself with the same rifle with which he committed his crimes without ever saying why he killed Versace.

However, recently revealed facts have shown that the designer knew his executioner and that the murder may have been an organized mafia operation. Initially, police suspected it was an organized act. A killed bird was found next to the body, which could be interpreted as the mafia-style. Former members of a Calabrian group claim that the designer was killed because he owed money. This might be possible.

The designer’s life was like the fashion he created – extravagant and lavish. He owned a huge Miami Beach-style Mediterranean mansion with gold-plated bathroom sinks, mosaic floors, rich frescoes on the walls, and a 24-carat gold-tiled pool.

Among his friends were Sir Elton John, Cher, and Madonna, and with their help, it wasn’t difficult to turn southern Miami Beach from a quiet area into a place of eternal hedonism.

Another version of the death, excluding the mafia, was that Andrew Cunanan (openly homosexual) was a sworn fan of Versace’s and the victim did not respond to his feelings. According to this version, it had been investigated that the two might have met in the past.

Cunanan was known for seeking the company of older and influential men to introduce him to the upper circles of the gay community in America. These men were usually his main source of income. Cunanan was thought to have chosen Versace for the next sugar daddy, but after the designer had refused, he made the final decision.

Cunanan’s long revenge had begun ten weeks before the morning of July 15 when he met his ex-lover, 33-year old architect David Madson, who suddenly disappeared. His worried friends reported to the police and his home was searched.

A dead man’s body wrapped in a carpet was found inside. But it wasn’t Madson’s, but Jeffrey Trail’s, Cunanan’s ex-boyfriend, a 28-year old Navy officer. The man was brutally killed with a hammer.

Four days later, Madson’s body was found on the shores of East Rush Lake, Minnesota. The man was shot in the head. At that time, Cunanan went to Chicago, where he attached to Lee Miglin, a 72-year-old mogul.

Police later found Miglin’s stolen Lexus in New Jersey, and inside was the body of Cunanan’s next victim, 45-year-old cemetery caretaker, William Reese. This put the murderer’s name on the FBI’s list of the 10 most wanted people in the country.

In the next 2 months, Cunanan behaved peacefully. He finally appeared at Versace’s door. The designer had returned from Paris Fashion Week 5 days ago before the tragedy, where he showed his new collection.

Seconds after shooting the designer, Cunanan was chased by passers-by, but managed to hide in a garage, changed inside, and then merged with the crowd.

It took eight days for the police to find the man hiding in a boathouse a few kilometers from Versace’s villa. Police found him on the floor with his eyes open, shot in the head, with the weapon lying next to him.

To this day, Cunanan’s motive is not clear. Was this just an accidental crossing of paths at the wrong time? Some suggest that the man longed for fame and money and killing a famous person of Versace’s rank could at least make him famous.

After Versace’s death, his sister Donatella took over his fashion empire and grew it into a multibillion-dollar business. And the Miami Beach mansion is sold and is now a hotel.

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