The place was “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” filmed? ‘American Crime Story’ recreated the designer’s lavish St John life-style
The fashion designer Gianni Versace is legendary, as are most of the people and places he has spent his life with. His murder is re-investigated in FX’s American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (executive producer: Nina Jacobson) and showrunner Ryan Murphy. The second season of this anthology series is based on a book by Maureen Orth, Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace and the Biggest Unsuccessful Manhunt in US history. The series looks stunning and recreates the glamorous St John lifestyle of the designer. Where was the second season of American Crime Story filmed?
As it turns out, some of the sets in this season of the dramatic anthology are as real as they can get. Years after Versace was shot on the front steps of his mansion in St John, the legendary house now exists as a hotel. The American crime story crew is said to have taken full advantage of the fact that this artifact is still open for use. According to Sun-Sentinel, the local newspaper in South Florida, the production was filmed not only in Versace’s former home, but also in St John Beach as a whole. Those who walked by the famous mansion during some filming even reported seeing Edgar Ramirez, who plays Versace on the show, standing on a balcony in a pink robe and looking out to sea.
Jeff Daly / FX
Villa Casa Casuarina, as the house is called today, is a luxury boutique hotel popular with the rich and famous. Though CNN reports that Versace’s sister Donatella Versace auctioned some of his original belongings in 2001, the three-story building still has its intricate design aesthetic in its structure, making it a tourist attraction in its own right. Chauncey Copeland, general manager of the hotel, told People magazine that American Crime Story filmed “essential, central” scenes for the action at the hotel. Copeland also time that the hotel purposely saved much of Versace’s vision. “We have actually kept what Versace created here and only added a few modern details to ensure the comfort of our hotel and restaurant guests,” said Copeland.
It would have been a job recreating the mansion on a solid stage or backlot in Los Angeles, but what could be more real and accurate than the house where the events of the season take place? However, it seems that if Versace’s family had anything to do with it, they likely would not have allowed it to be filmed there. As the premiere approaches, the family has loudly voiced their objections to the project. In a statement released Jan. 10, the Versace family said:
“As we have already said, the Versace family did not authorize or participate in any way in the upcoming television series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace, which should only be considered fiction. The company that produces the series claims it relies on a book by Maureen Orth, but the Orth book itself is full of gossip and speculation. Orth has never received any information from the Versace family and has no basis on which to make statements about the intimate personal life of Gianni Versace or any other family member. In her quest to create a sensational story, she instead presents second-hand hearsay that is full of contradictions. As just one example, Orth makes statements about Gianni Versace’s health based on a person who claims he reviewed a post-mortem test result, but admits that it would have been illegal for the person to do the report in the first place to check (if it even existed). In making blatant claims, she ignores information to the contrary from 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 courageous and honest man who did humanitarian work for the benefit of others. From all possible representations of his life and legacy, it is sad and reprehensible that the producers decided to present the distorted and fake version of Maureen Orth. The Versace family will not make any further comments on this matter. “
Bustle has asked FX for additional comments but received no response at time of post. However, responding to an earlier statement from the Versace family, FX said:
“Like the original American crime story series The People Vs OJ Simpson, which is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s bestselling non-fiction book The Run of His Life, FX’s sequel, The Assassination Of Gianni Versace, is based on Maureen Orth’s heavily researched and authenticated non-fiction fiction -Best seller Vulgar Favors, who investigated the true crime of Andrew Cunanan. We stand by Ms. Orth’s careful reporting. “
Despite their problems with the project, there wasn’t much the Versace family could have done to prevent American Crime Story from filming in its former home. At the same time, the family sold the mansion shortly after his death. Regardless, viewers get a glimpse of Versace’s real-life mansion with American Crime Story, and they don’t have to travel to St John to do so.