The latestmust-watch drama,The Assassination of Gianni Versace,follows the story of Versace’s 1997 assassination at his fabulous Miami Beach home.
With murder, unsolved mysteries, fabulous couture and an all-star cast on the menu,American Crime Story’s latest mini-series has a lot to offer – but we think it's the house itself that's the real star of this show.
Bought by Versace in 1992, it's just as magnificently maximalist as you would expect. No expense was spared and no surface was left undecorated.
Versace stumbled across the magnificent mansion by accident in 1992, when it was being used as a 24-apartment building. It was love at first sight. It wasn't even for sale, but Versace got his lawyers on the case, made a generous bid and then went to work converting the24-apartment structure into an eight bedroom palace, complete with two kitchens, three sitting rooms, 10 bathrooms, a bar, a library, and four living rooms.
Along with the Casa Casuarina (the name of the original building), Versace also purchased the 6,100-square-foot Hotel Revere next door for $3.7 million, knocking it down and using the land for his garden, witha generous terrace, guesthouse, and of course the infamous swimming pool.
Versace spent over $35 millionon the elaborate renovation and expansion, complete withceiling frescoes andMedusa mosaics,furniture upholstered in Versace fabrics, Picassos on the walls and classical antiques in every room, some rooms adorned entirely with seashells and another with pebbles, and even the swimming pool is inlaid withthousands of 24-karat gold tiles, all imported from Italy.
It's no surprise, then, thatmuch of the new series had to be shot in Versace’s actual home, as the rooms would have been impossible to replicate. But the set also offerssomething not manyCrime Storyfilming locations can offer: the chance to visit in person.
After Versace's murder, the house sat empty for three years before Donatella sold it in 2000. It changed ownership a few times (even attracting a bid from Donald Trump) until eventually it was snapped up for a cool$41.5 millionin 2013,reopening as the Villa Casa Casuarina, a boutique hotel that had kept true to its past – complete with24-karat gold swimming pool, and a restaurant appropriately named Gianni's.
Thankfully, despite the many changes of hands, most of Versace’s lavish interiors remain intact, and a stay in “Donatella’s Room” can even be arranged.
The hotel has kept as close to Versace’s vision as possible, with the bedrooms seemingly untouched. Copying details fromarchival photographs, the hotelreproduced furniture, touched up murals and brought the lavish home back to its former glory.
The hotel has even retained some of the mansion's mysteries;23,000 square feet clearly wasn't enough to hold all of the designer's clothing, so Versace added hidden storage around the property to contain the overflow from his wardrobe. In some of the hotel's rooms guests can still store their belongings out of sight. TheMedusa mosaic still sits proud in the middle of the pool garden, made up of thousands of beautiful tiles that were imported by Versace from his hometown of Reggio Calabria, Italy.
The hotel even kept Versace's24-karat gold toilet – a luxe toilet carved from a slab of marble with a gold plated seat and lid. The only things that are missing are Versace's trap doors and secret passageways that he used as shortcuts (the hotel has had to seal these shut), Versace's bird coop full of carrier pigeons that he used to send secret messages with, and of course the legend himself. The man may be gone but the legend (and his mansion) lives on. We' can't wait to visit.
Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.
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