Antonio was one of the first people to find Versace when he was shot dead on the steps of his Miami mansion
The Assassination of Gianni Versace – American Crime Stories’ dramatisation of Gianni Versace’s murder – has sparked a renewed interest in the violent end of one of the most successful fashion designers of our time.
It has also shone the spotlight on the Versace family and others closest to him, who are all portrayed by actors in the series.
In the first episode Gianni meets his end on the steps of his Miami mansion at the hands of gunman Andrew Cunanan and is found by his partner, Antonio D’Amico, played by Ricky Martin. The series goes back and forth in time, exploring the life Gianni led before his death.
But who is Antonio D’Amico and what do we know about him?
Antonio was born in 1959 in Mesagne, Italy. He met Versace in 1982 and eventually they began a relationship, which lasted 15 years, until his death in 1987.
When Versace was murdered, Antonio was working as a designer for the Versace Sport line. He also modelled occasionally.
What was their relationship like?
The couple were very close it seems and Antonio was living at his plush Miami mansion as his partner. They moved there together in 1992 from Milan, where they’d lived for six years.
Edgar Ramirez, who plays Versace in the show, said that based on the accounts he’d had from people he’d spoken to who knew them, they were in a very loving relationship.
“They were very much in love…and we really wanted to pay tribute to what we think was a beautiful love story,” Ramirez said. “They were very close and they were real partners, not only in love, but also in business and in creativity and in the enjoyment of life, and that was very important to them.”
Did they have an open relationship?
Although Antonio hasn’t commented publicly as to whether they had an open relationship, the series shows other men visiting the Versace mansion for sex. In one scene Versace tells the younger Antonio he doesn’t want him to get bored and seems happy for him to invite others into their home and bed.
Ricky Martin spoke to the Gay Times about portraying Antonio and their ‘open’ relationship.
“It’s important that we shed some light on power couples like [Gianni Versace and Antonio D’Amico], even though [D’Amico] was quiet and behind the scenes and he was just there supporting his man for 15 years.
“I also believe there was a level of homophobia going around in his family where he was hiding, even though he says, ‘My relationship was very open and free with Gianni’…
“The level of commitment after 15 years. The level of security between them and trust between them is so solid.”
Friction with Donatella
American Crime Stories highlights Donatella ‘s cold treatment of Antonio and indeed it seems that is accurate.
In March 1999 she said: “My relationship with Antonio is exactly as it was when Gianni was alive. I respected him as the boyfriend of my brother, but I never liked him as a person. So the relationship stayed the same.”
Antonio was left a pension by Versace in his will and the right to live in any of his homes in Italy and the US. However the homes were actually owned by the company – therefore Donatella, brother Santo and his niece Allegra.
An agreement was drawn up with lawyers, but Antonio received a smaller pension and a restricted right to live in the properties.
Antonio, for his part it seems, didn’t fight it because grieving sent him into a dark depression.
He told the Guardian: “I had never been through a depression and never saw a therapist as I was advised to: why did I need to tell someone else what had happened when I knew I was this way because Gianni’s death had torn me in two?
“I was in a nightmare, I felt nothing and gave no importance to anything…the house, the money…because it felt false to have expectations of life.”
What is Antonio doing now?
After Versace’s death, he began designing again and presented a collection in Milan, which Elton John attended in support. He was keen to point out at the time that he’d used his own savings for the line and not anything he was left by Versace.
He has also released a denim line called Pump and a golfwear line in 2017.
Antonio now lives in the northern Italian countryside with a new partner he met in 2005, but knows he will always have feelings for Versace.
“Sincerely, after two decades, I will always be connected to Gianni as a person I loved for more than 15 years,” he said.
“But today, I am a different person … the world continues to go around … You can look back at the past until a certain point, [but] then you need to look ahead to the future.”
What does he think of American Crime Stories depiction of the tragedy?
In an interview with the Guardian in 2017, he said he had not been consulted over the facts and was keen to point out a number of errors.
One of those is the scene when Ricky Martin, playing him, hears the gunshots and runs outside to find his lover shot dead.
“The picture of Ricky Martin holding the body in his arms is ridiculous,” he said, adding that it was like looking at a mimic of Michelangelo’s Pietà , which depicts the body of Jesus in the arms of his mother after the crucifixion. “Maybe it’s the director’s poetic licence, but that is not how I reacted.”
He revealed he didn’t even touch the body of his lover and one of the butlers also went to investigate.
“I felt as if my blood had turned to ice,” he said. “The house had stained glass windows so we couldn’t see what had happened from inside, so we had to open the gate.
“I saw Gianni lying on the steps, with blood around him. At that point, everything went dark. I was pulled away, I didn’t see any more.”
He also insisted that Versace didn’t know his killer Andrew Cunanan – the series suggests they had met in a club and spent some time together.
Antonio was keen to emphasise that the depiction of Gianni hiding his sexuality from the public was entirely untrue.
In one scene, Versace is walking along the beach suffering with ill health after being diagnosed as HIV positive. Ricky Martin’s character tries to help him but he pulls away, worried the paparazzi will see.
“We lived like a natural couple, there was never a problem,” Antonio insisted. “It was the right moment for him to come out in public, but everyone involved in our world knew. He never tried to hide who he was.”
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Stories Season 2 continues on Wednesday March 14 on BBC2 at 9pm.