Fact vs Fiction: What's Accurate in The Assassination of Gianni Versace

Versace American Crime Story TV Show


Everett Collection

Last night, one of the season's most highly anticipated new shows finally debuted. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story's first episode was an intriguing opener that definitely made us excited for the season. In light of the debate over whether the show is an accurate portrayal or not, we decided to break down what was real and what was elaborated. 

Fact: The murder scene in the show was mostly accurate. In 1997, Gianni Versace walked to the nearby News Café, where he purchased a magazine and coffee and returned to his home, where he was killed by Andrew Cunanan on his front steps. 

Fiction: However, the real Antonio D’Amico disputes the scene where he is shown embracing Versace's dead body. “The picture of Ricky Martin holding the body in his arms is ridiculous,” D'Amico told The Guardian in July. “Maybe it’s the director’s poetic license, but that is not how I reacted...The house had stained glass windows so we couldn’t see what had happened from inside, so we had to open the gate. I saw Gianni lying on the steps, with blood around him. At that point, everything went dark. I was pulled away, I didn’t see any more."

Fact: The dead bird was also an accurate portrayal. During the murder, a dove was accidentally struck by a bullet fragment. Vulture tapped a reporter who covered the case at the time, who explained that the bird “sparked a panic that this was a Mafia from Sicily hit." As Slate explains, "The presence of a dead bird is a known mafia signature."

Fiction: According to the show, Cunanan had a conversation with Versace in San Francisco in 1990. However, it has never been definitively proven that Cunanan had prior contact with Versace before the murder. 

Fact: Cunanan really did use his own name at a pawn shop. He pawned a gold coin only eight days before the shooting.