(WSVN) - This Saturday marks two decades since fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered on the steps of his South Beach mansion. But all these years later, there’s still curiosity and intrigue surrounding his famous home. 7’s Brian Entin goes behind the gates for our special assignment report — The Versace Murder: 20 years later.
It’s the Miami Beach murder that shocked the world. The bloody front steps. The celebrity victim. And the serial killer suspect.
Witness: “I heard two loud pops. Pow pow.”
July 15, 1997, famous Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, shot and killed in front of his South Beach mansion by serial killer Andrew Cunanan.
Police: “Miami Beach Fire units responded to the scene and transported Mr. Versace to the Jackson Memorial Ryder Trauma Center where he was pronounced dead.”
Chauncey Copeland: “Welcome to the Villa Casa Casuarina.”
Twenty years later and Versace’s former home is virtually unchanged.
It’s now a boutique hotel, bought for almost $42 million in 2013.
Versace’s style is still everywhere from the small shells and mosaics in the dining room to the murals throughout the bedrooms…
Chauncey Copeland: “This way to the pool.”
And the breathtaking pool — with gold tiles Versace inlayed himself.
Brian Entin: “Twenty-four karat gold.”
Chauncey Copeland: “Yes.”
Brian Entin: “Real gold?”
Chauncey Copeland: “Yes.”
Every detail was important to Versace. He custom-designed all 10 of the suites.
But nothing compares to this.
Chauncey Copeland: “This is Gianni’s personal suite.”
Versace’s bedroom has barely changed since the day he was murdered.
His bed is a double king with the original linens.
There are stained glass windows, and intricate murals.
The mansion is full of mystery … and even secret passageways.
Chauncey Copeland: “He would spend a lot of time playing chess here, looking out onto Ocean Drive. And this was the door that led into the library.”
Brian Entin: “So this was a secret door?”
Chauncey Copeland: “Exactly. This way he could go back and fourth to his library maintaining his privacy.”
Chauncey Copeland: “This way to the observatory and to the upper floors.”
We go all the way to the top of the mansion.
Chauncey Copeland: “He used to spend quite a long time in here.”
The observatory was one of Versace’s favorite spots.
Brian Entin: “Wow, look at this view.”
Chauncey Copeland: “Isn’t that something?”
Now it costs anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 a night to stay here.
Brian Entin: “And what’s so amazing is even after 20 years, tourists still flock here from around the world. They take pictures on these famous front steps — the exact spot where Gianni Versace was murdered.”
The front steps became a memorial to Versace in the days after his death … and it’s now one of the most photographed homes in the U.S.
Tourist: “The architecture, the story behind it. It is beautiful, but at the same time tragic.”
And that story will be thrust back into the spotlight with a new mini-series airing on FX next year starring Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz.
Chauncey Copeland: “We realize we’ve been entrusted with that legacy.”
A legacy that’s very much alive 20 years after his death.
Gianni Versace may be gone, but his story and this mansion are as famous as ever.
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