Considering the world’s perverse fascination with all things true crime, it comes as no surprise that the latest instalment of the American Crime Story franchise, The Assassination Of Gianni Versace, has captured our attention and inspired an array of new theories surrounding the fashion designer’s death.
Twenty-two years since his murder outside of his Miami Beach mansion, five different hypotheses regarding Versace’s links to serial killer Andrew Cunanan (played by Darren Criss) have emerged after the the show’s on-screen depiction.
Here, we dive deep and recap the five theories behind Gianni Versace’s death.
THE ‘HOMOPHOBIA’ THEORY
Some are speculating that the Miami police were somewhat responsible for the death of Gianni Versace (played by Édgar Ramírez), given the homophobia that dominated society at the time. Many of Andrew Cunanan’s victims were gay, and some have speculated this lead to a less-thorough investigation into his multiple murders.
“He wasn’t caught because he was targeting gay people, and people didn’t care,” the show’s director Ryan Murphy told Entertainment Weekly. “The more I had read about it the more I was startled by the fact that [Cunanan] really was only allowed to get away with it because of homophobia.”
According to Rolling Stone:
“Those involved with The Assassination of Gianni Versace have suggested that homophobia, particularly within law enforcement, decreased the urgency of the investigation, as if a gay man who kills other gay men was considered less of a threat worth prioritizing than the average heterosexual spree killer.”
THE ‘STRANGERS’ THEORY
Arguably one of the most unclear aspects of the series’ retelling of the story is the true nature of the relationship between Versace and Cunanan, if there even was one. The premiere episode of the show portrays Versace and Cunanan meeting in the VIP section of a nightclub in 1990, were a frustrated Versace is eventually charmed by Cunanan’s story about his mother’s childhood in Italy. The pair later go on a date to the San Francisco Opera, where Versace was a costume designer at the time.
According to the Versace family, however, the designer had never encountered Cunanan prior to his murder. The family claim that at that point in Gianni’s life, he was highly focused on his work, always going to bed early and completely committed to his long-term relationship.
THE ‘HIV’ THEORY
Some reports allege that Cunanan had told his friends that he was HIV-positive, and that he was killing past paramours out of vengeance for possibly infecting him. An autopsy, however, revealed that Cunanan was actually HIV-negative. Versace’s family have always maintained that the designer did not have HIV.
THE ‘NATURE VS. NURTURE’ THEORY
One theory suggests that Andrew Cunanan was a pathological liar but that despite that, wasn’t actually born a psychopath. It’s been alleged that he became one during his time at the elite Bishop’s School in La Jolla, where he was forced to hide the fact that his parents were not wealthy and could not afford his tuition from his classmates.
THE ‘TRIGGER’ THEORY
Cunanan’s exact motive for murdering Gianni Versace remains unclear, however one recent theory suggests that it was a breakup that triggered his serial killing spree. According to Town & Country, Cunanan was cut off by a wealthy older boyfriend in 1996 after the man had apparently become frustrated by Cunanan’s constant request for a Mercedes. This was the alleged catalyst that caused Cunanan to “spiral out of control”.
From Harper’s Bazaar Australia