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American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: How much actually happened?

Just how accurate is ACS's depiction of Gianni Versace's death in 1997?

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Emmy Griffiths
Emmy GriffithsTV & Film Editor
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American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace was hugely successful when it aired on BBC Two, and is being released on Netflix on 1 February. The historical crime drama focuses on the murder of the fashion mogul, Gianni Versace, in 1997. Since we'll no doubt be catching up on the hit show after it drops on Netflix, we've taken a look at what is fact and what is fiction in the show to answer your most pressing questions, but warning! Potential spoilers ahead...

How was Versace murdered?

Like the TV show, Gianni did leave his oceanfront mansion in Miami to visit a café, where he purchased several magazines, and was shot on his return to his home by the serial killer, Andrew Cunanan (played terrifying in the show by Darren Criss). And like the show, a bird was also killed by a bullet fragment in a freak accident. Unlike the show, Andrew didn't turn his gun on one of Gianni's employees who attempted to chase him down. While a witness to the crime did attempt to follow him, they were simply unable to catch up. Also, although there were reports at the time that one witness dipped pages of a magazine in his blood on the mansion steps, as seen on the show, this was later met with scepticism since the public weren't let anywhere near the crime scene.

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Gianni Versace is played by Edgar Ramírez 

Gianni's partner Antonio D'Amico, who is played by Ricky Martin in the show, has also said that he didn't react to the horrific incident the same way as is depicted in the show, telling the Observer: "The picture of Ricky Martin holding the body in his arms is ridiculous. Maybe it's the director's poetic license, but that is not how I reacted."

Donatella Versace's reaction to her brother's death

Although played magnificently by Penelope Cruz in the show, we will never know how accurate her portrayal was of Gianni's grieving sister, Donatella. The family released a statement when the show aired on FX in the US, which read: "The Versace family has neither authorised nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace. Since Versace did not authorise the book on which it is partly based nor has it taken part in the writing of the screenplay, this TV series should only be considered as a work of fiction." The book the statement refers to is Vulgar Favours: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History by Maureen Orth, on which the show is based.

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Donatella was thought to be close with her brother

Were Andrew Cunanan and Gianni Versace really acquainted with one another?

Gianni was the last of Andrew's five murder victims, and the 27-year-old was known to have an obsession with the fashion designer. But did the pair ever meet? According to Maureen Orth, yes. Based on eyewitnesses, she alleged that Andrew met Gianni at a club in San Francisco, and he would regularly tell people he knew Gianni. Speaking about the case and whether they knew one another, a detective for Miami Beach police department told CBS News: "I think so. I think they knew each other… or he wanted to be in his circle, and maybe he was rejected."

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Darren Criss plays Andrew Cunanan

However, it is never entirely clear on the show whether their meeting is real, or we are watching one of Andrew's many pathological lies play out on screen. Even Darren Criss, who plays Andrew on the show, isn't sure. He told BuzzFeed that the show is "as if we're watching one of Andrew's own delusions".

Did Andrew know Joe Miglin?

On the show, Andrew is an escort who has met one of his murder victims, Joe, on several occasions, and visited him at his home while his wife, Marilyn, is away on a business trip. In reality, no one is certain for sure what their relationship was, or if they even knew each other at all. However, it is true that Andrew stayed the night at the Miglins' home following the murder, had a bath, a shave and helped himself to food, hinting that he knew about Marilyn's business trip and when she would return. Although it was largely believed that the pair knew each other in some capacity, the Miglin family have always denied that Joe had any connection to Andrew. Speaking about his murder, Joe's wife previously said: "We don't even think about it. We know who we are and what we stand for."

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Where are the Miglin family now?

Joe and Marilyn's son Duke did have a brief film career, and appeared in Mulligans!, Air Force One and Cyberdorm. However, according to ABC he eventually became a real estate developer. Marilyn still has a collection of products including perfume and makeup which is available on the Home Shopping Network. Her first store, which is mentioned on the show, was on Oak Street, which is nicknamed Marilyn Miglin Way.

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Gianni Versace in 1991

Why did it take so long to track Andrew down?

Andrew Cunanan was notoriously good at evading capture by swapping his appearance and vehicle, but there were moments where he could have been caught. For example, he was indeed recognised in a sandwich shop by an employee, who called the police. Although they were told to stall him, the cashier was unaware of what was happening and gave him his sandwich, and he left the store before the police could arrive. He also really did use his real name and address while pawning a coin, despite being publicly wanted for murder at this point.

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