After an official statement issued on Monday distancing itself from the series, which it characterized as “a work of fiction,” the Milan-based company on Wednesday declared that the 1999 book by Maureen Orth that inspired the nine episodes, “Vulgar Favors,” 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.”
In particular, the Versace family contends that the writer “makes assertions” about the late designer’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).”
Orth, states Versace, “in making her lurid claims,” ignores “contrary information provided by members” of the designer’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 murdered in Miami in July 1997 at the hands of serial killer Andrew Cunanan.
Orth in her book claimed that Gianni Versace had AIDS and that his health was deteriorating but that he kept it a secret to avoid putting a public listing of the company at risk.
“Gianni Versace was a brave and honest man, who engaged in humanitarian work for the benefit of others,” stated the company. To be sure, the designer was a leader in the fight against AIDS, channeling energy and funds into research and benefits. “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,” the company said.
The series is directed by Ryan Murphy and comes on the heels of the Emmy-winning “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” the opening episode of which was also directed by Murphy. Gianni Versace is played by Edgar Ramírez and Versace’s partner Antonio D’Amico is played by Ricky Martin. Penélope Cruz stars as Versace’s sister Donatella, while Cunanan is played by Darren Criss. On Tuesday, the actors stepped out at the premiere of the series, which will debut on FX on January 17.