Fashion designer Gianni Versace is legendary, and so are most of the people and places he spent his life with. His murder will be reexamined with FX's American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (executive producer: Nina Jacobson) and showrunner Ryan Murphy has based the second season of this anthology series on a book by Maureen Orth, Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History. The series looks to be visually stunning, recreating the glamorous Miami lifestyle of the designer. So, where was Season 2 of American Crime Story filmed?
As it turns out, some of the sets on this season of the dramatic anthology are about as genuine as they can be. Years after Versace was shot and killed on the front steps of his Miami mansion, the legendary home now exists as a hotel. The American Crime Story crew reportedly took full advantage of the fact that this artifact is still open for use. According to the Sun-Sentinel, the local newspaper in South Florida, the production filmed in not only Versace's former home, but also around Miami Beach as a whole. Those who walked by the famed mansion during some of the shoots even reported seeing Edgar Ramirez, who plays Versace in the show, standing on a balcony in a pink robe and gazing out toward the sea.
The Villa Casa Casuarina, as the home is now known, operates as a luxurious boutique hotel popular with the rich and famous. Though CNN reports that Versace's sister, Donatella Versace, auctioned off some of his original belongings in 2001, the three-story building still boasts his intricate design aesthetic in its very structure, making it a tourist attraction in its own right. Chauncey Copeland, general manager for the hotel, told People magazine that American Crime Story filmed "essential, central" scenes to the plot within the hotel. Copeland also Time that the hotel has purposefully saved much of Versace's vision. “We actually have preserved what Versace created here and just augmented it with some modern touches for the convenience of our hotel guests and restaurant patrons,” Copeland said.
It would have been a task to recreate the mansion on a sound stage or a Los Angeles backlot, but what could be more tied to reality and accuracy than the very home where the events of the season take place? It seems, though, that had Versace's family had anything to do with it, they probably wouldn't have allowed filming to take place there. As the premiere looms nearer, the family has been vocal about their objection to the project. In a statement released Jan. 10, the Versace family said:
“As we have said, the Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace, which should only be considered as a work of fiction. The company producing the series claims it is relying on a book by Maureen Orth, but the Orth book itself is full of gossip and speculation. Orth never received any information from the Versace family and she has no basis to make claims about the intimate personal life of Gianni Versace or other family members. Instead, in her effort to create a sensational story, she presents second-hand hearsay that is full of contradictions.
As just one example, Orth makes assertions about Gianni Versace’s medical condition based on a person who claims he reviewed a post-mortem test result, but she admits it would have been illegal for the person to have reviewed the report in the first place (if it existed at all). In making her lurid claims, she ignores contrary information provided by members of Mr. Versace’s family, who lived and worked closely with him and were in the best position to know the facts of his life.
Gianni Versace was a brave and honest man, who engaged in humanitarian work for the benefit of others. Of all the possible portrayals of his life and legacy, it is sad and reprehensible that the producers have chosen to present the distorted and bogus version created by Maureen Orth.
The Versace family will issue no further comment on the matter.”
Bustle has reached out to FX for further comment but did not receive a response as of time of publication. However, FX responded to an earlier Versace family statement, saying:
"Like the original American Crime Story series The People Vs OJ Simpson, which was based on Jeffrey Toobin’s non-fiction bestseller The Run of His Life, FX’s follow-up The Assassination Of Gianni Versace is based on Maureen Orth’s heavily researched and authenticated non-fiction bestseller Vulgar Favors which examined the true-life crime spree of Andrew Cunanan. We stand by the meticulous reporting of Ms. Orth."
Despite their issues with the project, there wasn't much the Versace family could have done to stop American Crime Story from filming at his former home. According to the same Time piece, the family sold the mansion shortly after his death. Regardless, audiences will be able to get a glimpse into Versace's real-life mansion with American Crime Story, and they won't have to travel to Miami to do it.